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Fiery chain reaction crash on Northeast Turnpike kills 1

A 29-year-old woman died recently in a chain reaction collision on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The woman was among a group of drivers stuck in a traffic jam.

Investigators said the fatal accident occurred on a Friday night in Washington Township as crews were working to clear a separate tractor trailer crash. State police said an SUV plowed into a line of cars caught in the bottlenecked traffic, causing some vehicles to burst into flames. The victim's car was among several that were set ablaze in the car accident.

A state trooper raced to pull victims from cars as flames spread. The trapped victim's car doors were blocked by other several vehicles involved in the traffic backup and collision. Onlookers were helpless to save the Whitehall Township woman.

A couple from Delaware County occupied the SUV that struck the stopped traffic. The husband was behind the wheel. Neither he nor his wife suffered serious injuries.

State troopers said the crash investigation remains open. An accident reconstruction team was called. Officials say they are not certain whether criminal charges will be filed against the SUV driver.

Authorities will eliminate the possible causes for the crash one step at a time. The SUV driver might have been tested for drug or alcohol impairment. The vehicle he was driving will be examined for any mechanical problems.

Cellphones and other electronic devices may be scrutinized to check for the possibility of distracted driving. Witnesses will describe what they can remember.

Published reports did not indicate whether other people had been hurt during the accident or how badly they might have been injured.

The physical and emotional trauma, medical bills and lost earnings during recovery are some of the damages victims could claim in a personal injury lawsuit. The family of the woman who died could also ask a civil court to grant a jury award for wrongful death.

Source:, "Driver in fatal Turnpike crash is identified," Kevin Amerman, Dec. 23, 2012

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