Lanes open after 21 car pile up on I-71 near Mansfield

Lanes open after 21 car pile up on I-71 near Mansfield
Viewer photo of I-71 accident near Mansfield, OH
Viewer photo of I-71 accident near Mansfield, OH

RICHLAND COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - The Mansfield Post of Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 71 southbound.

The accident happened Monday afternoon just after 2 pm, Troopers from the Mansfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to a 21 multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 71 southbound north of State Route 13.

The crash occurred during a sudden snow burst causing limited visibility.  The roadway became snow covered and slippery.

Troopers say traffic started to slow and bunch up in all three lanes.  A semi-tractor and trailer unit was unable to slow in time and struck the rear of another semi-tractor initiating a 21 vehicle chain reaction pile up.

Vehicles collided in all three lanes and also in the median and off the right side of the roadway.  The entire roadway and berms were completely blocked with crashed vehicles.

Some drivers and occupants complained of minor injuries, but none of the injuries were visible and no one was transported.

Washington Township Fire and EMS were on scene.  Wreckers from Shelly Smiths Towing, Ronks Towing, Anderson Towing, Eddie's Towing, and Westside Towing were called to clear the scene.

ODOT set up a detour for Interstate 71 southbound traffic onto US-30.  One lane of traffic was open for southbound traffic at 4:15 pm and by 5:08 pm the scene was cleared.

Sgt. Mike Roth advised the cause of the crash is following too close.  Vehicles need to maintain assured clear distance ahead so they can safely react to the changing driving conditions.  A two second following distance is recommended.  Your following distance needs to increase as road conditions change.  Be aware of your surroundings and focused ahead as you are driving.  When you see brake lights immediately start to slow, don't allow yourself to get bunched up with no way out.

The crash remains under investigation, however Sgt. Roth advised the majority of these vehicles share fault for not maintaining assured clear distance ahead.

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