401 reopens following crash

The eastbound 401 near Prescott, closed to traffic since Friday afternoon when poor visibility contributed to a massive pileup, has been reopened.
More than 20 vehicles were involved in pileup on 401 Friday afternoon. 2:21

Crews were sweeping glass and shredded paper off the eastbound 401 between Prescott and Highway 416 Saturday morning — the final bit of cleanup following a multi-vehicle pileup Friday that shut down a portion of the 401.

Traffic continued to be rerouted around the crash, along old Highway 16, until 1:45 p.m. Saturday when police reopened the eastbound 401 lanes.

The crash occured around 4:30 p.m. Friday and involved four tractor-trailers and dozens of cars. One person was trapped inside a tractor-trailer until firefighters cut him from the wreckage and two people were sent to hospital with critical injuries. 

Blowing snow severely reduced visibility on that stretch of highway before the crash, say witnesses.

A firefighter talks to a man trapped inside a transport truck following a pileup on Highway 401 late Friday afternoon. (Submitted by CKWS Kingston)

"It was complete whiteout conditions, like a blizzard that came out of nowhere," said Michael Vandermeer, whose car was sandwiched amongst others in the wreckage. "When I hit the crest of the hill ... you just drove into this."

The Ottawa Paramedic Service was one of three paramedic teams that responded to the crash site and reported that a tractor-trailer was on fire. Firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Three other tractor-trailers were also involved in the crash and one of the trailers was ripped open, spilling its load of shredded documents all over the road.

Algonquin Towing recovered 32 vehicles from the crash site and used a small crane to remove some of the tractor-trailer wreckage. The Brockville company dispatched eight staff to the scene at 8 p.m. Friday and they were still assisting with the cleanup Saturday morning.

The two seriously injured crash victims were taken to hospital, but their conditions are unknown. Ottawa paramedics also transferred another two victims to hospital — one with a hip and shoulder injuries and the other with a broken leg.