Saturday, November 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Storm causes big problems; 1 dead in crash

Delays being reported at Philadelphia International Airport

Story Highlights
  • One person was killed in a crash shortly before 5 a.m. on the Schuylkill Expressway.
  • Airports were reporting delays and canceling flights due to the weather.
  • The weather service issued flood warnings and advisories for much of the region.

The large, fast-moving storm that blew through overnight - churning up high winds and causing local flooding - caused major traffic problems earlier throughout the Philadelphia region on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

A string of crashes, one deadly, were reported through the night and into the early morning. Airports were reporting delays and canceling flights due to the weather.

Traffic was absolutely brutal during the morning commute through Philadelphia. One person was killed in a crash shortly before 5 a.m. on the Schuylkill Expressway (Interstate 76) near West Girard Ave., severely impacting traffic. Fooding was reported on the roadway prior to the crash and the standing water was a major factor in the accident.

The deadly crash happened when an Audi traveling west on I-76 hit a pool of water, spun out of control and struck a concrete barrier. A Chrysler Voyager van carrying seven people then abruptly slowed to avoid the Audi, and a tractor-trailer then rear-ended the van, said Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Gerard McShea.

More coverage
  • Driest run in 12 years over
  • One man, 47-year-old Handy Gunawan, in the van was killed. The female Audi driver and the other people in the van were injured, some severely, though their exact conditions were not available. The tractor-trailer driver suffered minor injuries, McShea said.

    The accident remains under investigation.

    Indeed, the expressway was temporarily closed eastbound and westbound at Montgomery Drive because of that crash as well as flooding. Harried police were being dispatched to various locations and asked to not only handle crash scenes, but also to stop motorists from getting on entrance ramps to I-76.

    As a result, one of the most heavily traveled area roads was backed up in multiple locations, often for miles. A crash on the Vine Street Expressway also added to the congestion.

    One lane westbound on the Schuylkill was opened about 7:30 a.m., but traffic was still "a parking lot" beyond the 30th Street tunnel, according to police.  It finally cleared later in the morning.

    SEPTA said bus routes 9, 27, 44, 124 and 125 were using local roads to bypass the closures.

    Multiple other crashes were reported on 26th Street near the Platt Street Bridge, prompting multiple calls to police and some shutdowns.

    The PennDOT alerts came as early as 5 a.m. warning commuters that travel on the expressway would not be smooth going, as other parts of the heavily traveled road were also impacted. Police were busy responding to reports of motorists trapped by flooding as leaves prevented stormwater from draining.

    Heavy rain fell in the region beginning Tuesday evening, with 2.13 inches recorded at Philadelphia International Airport, 3.16 inches in Wynnewood and 2.5 inches in Upper Chichester Township. More than three inches fell in multiple parts of North Jersey, according to the National Weather Service, and more than four inches fell in Hanover, Morris County.

    The weather service issued flood warnings and advisories for much of the region, warning residents to watch out for flooding in urban areas and small streams.

    Elsewhere, there were a number of crashes overnight. One crash on I-95 was cleared and traffic flow returned to normal. Meanwhile, a car with an occupant inside was reportedly trapped in water at Parkside and Edgewood avenues in Trenton.

    At Philadelphia International Airport, both arriving and departing flights were being delayed, some for as long as two hours. Other flights for later in the day are being canceled, due to expected air traffic congestion.

    There were also scattered power outages across the region, with Camden County appearing to be the hardest-hit area, with more than 2,000 customers lacking power shortly after 6:30 a.m.

    Check back for live coverage all morning.


    Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

    Frank Kummer and Emily Babay PHILLY.COM
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