30-vehicle pileup closes Toronto-bound highway

Crash on QEW (Julie Jocsak photo)

Crash on QEW (Julie Jocsak photo)

Bill Sawchuk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:24 PM ET

ST. CATHARINES, ONT. - Snow and slippery conditions were blamed for a 30-vehicle pileup and a slew of other collisions Thursday afternoon on the Toronto-bound Queen Elizabeth Way.

The crashes closed all lanes of the busy highway and left the Ontario Provincial Police scrambling to respond.

"We are getting a lot of snow and wind coming off the lake," said Sgt. Jan Idzenga of the OPP. "That area is just getting pummelled -- and with the temperatures being so cold, the salt isn't melting the ice. We haven't had a break all day."

Three near-simultaneous collisions in the morning closed the eastbound lanes of the Garden City Skyway as tow trucks worked to clear the scene. At noon, another eight-vehicle collision blocked two eastbound lanes of the QEW.

At about 3 p.m., the OPP reported the massive pileup near Beamsville. The accident included a tractor-trailer carrying 400 gallons of bleach that jackknifed. The load of bleach remained intact, the fire department said.

The OPP reported about one collision every two minutes, with whiteout conditions from the Niagara area through Cambridge.

By 4 p.m., the St. Catharines Fire Department had dispatched crews to a total of 23 accidents on the stretch of the QEW covering St. Catharines, Vineland and Grimsby.

There also was a seven-car pileup on the QEW near the Burlington Skyway early in the morning.

There were only minor injuries in all the collisions, paramedics reported.

At one point, the OPP tweeted a warning about extremely slippery conditions and asked drivers to exercise extreme caution.

"It's frustrating for the officers, but there isn't much we can do until we get a break in the weather," Idzenga said.


Twitter: @BillBillsawchuk