13 people hurt in multi-vehicle pileup on Interstate 81

Route 81pileup
Route 81pileup(Karen Beach)
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 2:08 PM EST
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TOWN OF WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - At least 12 vehicles, including 4 tractor trailers, were involved in a pileup on Interstate 81 Wednesday afternoon.

Town of Watertown Fire Chief David Johnston told 7 News it appears a tractor-trailer jackknifed in the southbound lane between the Arsenal Street (Exit 45) and Watertown Center (Exit 44) exits at around 1:20 p.m.

He said the snow was coming down so hard that there were white-out conditions for drivers behind the rig, causing a chain-reaction crash.

According to Johnston, 13 people were hurt. Four of them were taken to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown. The rest suffered minor injuries that didn’t require hospitalization.

Johnston said the jaws of life had to be used to free two people from a vehicle that smashed into the back of a tractor-trailer.

According to Johnston, some first responders couldn’t drive to the crash scene because of the traffic on Arsenal Street and snow on the shoulders of the road.

He said the personnel, from the Watertown city and town fire departments, had to walk to the site with their medical equipment.

Johnston said Adams Center firefighters were able to reach the scene from the south and used their jaws of life to free people from the wreckage.

He said a school bus from First Student took 6 people involved in the crash to the Town of Watertown Fire Department’s station to keep them warm.

Fire departments from the town and city of Watertown, Adams, Adams Center and Brownville responded to the scene.

The interstate reopened at 4:30 p.m., according to Johnston.

State police are handling the investigation.

Multi-vehicle pileup on Route 81
Multi-vehicle pileup on Route 81(Karen Beach)