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Icy roads blamed for crashes involving 65 cars in Massachusetts

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSTow trucks continue to remove damaged vehicles on Interstate 290 westbound near exit 14 in Worcester, Mass. on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. State police report that more than 70 cars, two tractor trailers and a box truck were involved in accidents on the highway. (AP Photo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Christine Peterson)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Tow trucks continue to remove damaged vehicles on Interstate 290 westbound near exit 14 in Worcester, Mass. on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. State police report that more than 70 cars, two tractor trailers and a box truck were involved in accidents on the highway. (AP Photo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Christine Peterson)

WORCESTER, Mass. >> Freezing rain was blamed for highway pileups that sent dozens of people to the hospital Sunday morning in central and northern Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State Police say a crash involving 65 cars and three tractor-trailers closed Interstate 290 in Worcester at about 7 a.m. About 35 to 40 people were taken to local hospitals. Two were seriously injured.

Both directions of the highway were reopened by 11:45 a.m., authorities said.

Sergeant Stephen Marsh compared the road to a sheet of ice.

"It was like if you went skating with your kids. It was that bad," he told The Boston Globe.

A State Police car was rear-ended and the trooper was forced to hurriedly return to her cruiser to avoid cars sliding toward her.

The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory through 11 a.m. Sunday for much of western and central Massachusetts, northeast Connecticut and northwest Rhode Island. Police advised motorists returning home from the Thanksgiving holiday to wait until state highway crews treated the roads.

Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said crews treated roads Sunday morning but the road conditions deteriorated quickly.

"It came up suddenly and quickly and the number of crews we had just wasn’t enough," he told The Telegram & Gazette.

Temperatures are forecast to rise into the 40s today, keeping roads free of ice.

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