9:30 a.m. UPDATE: Drivers' identities confirmed
1 a.m. UPDATE: Victims' identities confirmed; adds details of other crashes
MERCER – Two teenagers from Hermitage were killed Sunday night when the car they were in slid into the path of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 80.
Mercer County Coroner John Libonati identified the victims as Alexis Myers, 16, and Danielle Nelson, 15, both of Hermitage. Both died of blunt force trauma and were declared dead at the scene at 7:20 p.m., Libonati said.
Two other girls who were in the car were treated at a local hospital then transferred to a Pittsburgh trauma center with critical injuries, Libonati said. He did not have their names.
According to a news release from state police, Jarmono L. Hogg, 37, of Fairview Park, Ohio, driver of one of the semis, was taken to Grove City Medical Center with unknown injuries.
The other semi-driver, Michael I. Smith, 53, of New Berlin, Pa., was not hurt.
The two deceased girls attended Hickory High School, but he didn’t know if the two other injured girls also attended the school. The four were driving to a Young Life function, a religious event, at Grove City College, Libonati said.
“The four girls were eastbound on I-80, and their vehicle lost control due to weather conditions and were struck by a semi-truck,’’ Libonati said. No information about the truck driver was immediately available.
“The accident was definitely due to road conditions, which were horrendous,’’ Libonati said.
Mercer County 911 said the accident happened just before 7 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-80 at mile marker 15, which is just west of the Mercer exit.
Police and fire radio transmissions indicated the four girls had been trapped inside the car.
Both lanes of I-80 eastbound were closed for more than three hours, creating a traffic jam of stopped vehicles that stretched more than 5 miles, police transmissions said. One eastbound lane was reopened by 10:30 p.m.
An apparent snow squall took its toll among travelers and severely reduced visibility, a 911 supervisor said.
Emergency responders from more than a dozen agencies responded to numerous back-to-back calls of accidents and disabled vehicles, in some cases endangering the first responders themselves.
Pine Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Levi Hipps was attending to a wreck on I-80 when another accident began to unfold in front of him. To escape injury he jumped off an I-80 overpass onto Route 173 below, Mercer County 911 said.
“He was lucky,’’ a 911 supervisor said. “I talked to him, and he said he was just bruised.’’
Besides that accident at the Route 173 Grove City exit about 10 miles east of the fatality, other emergencies included a car that caught fire at the 20-mile marker as well as accidents closer to West Middlesex. Accidents also were reported along Interstate 79 north of Mercer.
No details of the secondary accidents were available Sunday night.
Grove City Medical Center received four I-80 accident patients Sunday night, said Pete Leigh, nursing supervisor for the healthcare provider.
Two of the patients were treated and released, and the other two were transferred to Pittsburgh hospitals, he said. But he was unable to say which accidents the patients were involved in.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory from 11 a.m. today to 1 p.m. Tuesday. Mixed precipitation of snow and ice was expected during that period. The weather service said up to an inch of snow was expected and up to two-tenths of an inch of ice along with gusting winds as high as 35 mph.