'Dozens' of vehicles involved in Hwy. 400 pileup in Barrie during whiteout
A stretch of Highway 400 remains closed in Barrie while crews work to clean up a massive multi-car pileup that scattered dozens of vehicles across the snow-covered roadway.
Approximately 70 vehicles were involved in the crash, which occurred in the southbound lanes of the highway, just south of Mapleview Drive, on Monday morning.
No major injuries have been reported, but police said 10 people were taken to hospital as a precaution.
The highway has been closed in both directions between Mapleview Drive and Innisfil Beach Road while crews tend to the scene.
“Fortunately, this was not very serious at all, actually. It was significant in terms of vehicles involved, but nothing serious in terms of injuries,” Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said.
“I don’t know how fast the vehicles were going when this all got started.”
Driving conditions deteriorated quickly this morning as a blizzard descended on the region. OPP reported “zero visibility” in much of the area as blowing snow whipped across the highway.
Images from the chaotic scene show vehicles zig-zagged across the highway, many with crumpled ends and smashed windshields. Schmidt described the crash as a chain reaction or series of fender benders.
Police don’t yet have an exact number of vehicles involved. Some of the vehicles trapped in the pileup did not sustain any damage, but are trapped between those that did.
First responders have provided hot coffee and food to drivers stuck in the mess. At the height of the situation, local transit buses sheltered those whose vehicles were badly damaged.
“We’re well on our way,” Schmidt said of the cleanup.
“It’ll be another couple of hours I would think, depending on the cleanup and heavy tow recoveries… Those are the most difficult right now.”
Snow, cold and icy buildup continues to hinder the efforts, he added.
Once the tows have cleared the road of vehicles, the Ministry of Transportation will plow and salt the area before reopening the highway.
The crash also reportedly caused a 500 litre diesel spill which crews managed to control quickly.
Schmidt hopes the area will reopen by the afternoon rush, but made no guarantees, noting that the “less than ideal conditions” continue to be an issue.
“With this kind of weather, it certainly makes things difficult,” he said.
Environment Canada issued a blizzard warning for the area around Barrie on Monday morning.
The federal agency warned of “dangerous snow squalls” and strong winds that could bring “whiteout conditions” in the area when combined.
The blowing snow has prompted OPP to close all Simcoe County and Dufferin County roads until further notice. Police are urging drivers to stay off the roads while the hazardous weather passes.