ASHLAND — Dillon Maloney of Hollis, a 21-year-old student at the University of New Hampshire, was headed to Loon Mountain in Lincoln for a day on the ski slopes Friday morning when a snow squall, which he said ''came out of nowhere'', hit Interstate 93 in Ashland less than a mile north of Exit 24, shortly before 10 a.m..
''I came around on a corner and there were 15 or 20 cars piled up in front of me. I hit the brakes but couldn't avoid them and slid into the pile. I was really lucky. I could see a number of people with head and facial injuries. Cars kept coming up behind me and sliding into the pileup,'' said Maloney.
He said that while he was waiting for a tow truck in his car, about 10 minutes after his crash, he heard ''a ping and then a boom'' and that smoke came pouring out of a truck and a vehicle behind it.
''The state police evacuated the scene and it was a while before I could get my car back,'' said Maloney, who finally got to see it again just around noon as it was hauled into the parking area next to Ashland Liquor store by Rusty's Towing of Tilton, where it was picked up by a wrecker and hauled back to Hollis.
He said that State Police handled the situation very well and worked to get everyone whose vehicle was capable of being driven away from the accident scene onto the highway and out of the area as soon as possible.
State Police said there were actually two separate accident scenes spread out over a half mile of highway which is marked by signs giving warnings of high winds in that area. They said the most serious crash involved a vehicle which slid under a tractor trailer. Both vehicles caught fire but the driver of the car escaped. The fire was quickly extinguished by local firefighters.
Ashland Fire Chief Steve Heath said that 11 people suffered injuries, none of which were life-threatening. ''Most were cuts and bruises,'' said Heath.
He said that seven people were taken to Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth for treatment and that four were transported to Franklin Regional Hospital.
The northbound lane of Rte. 93 was closed at Exit 24 for several hours with traffic diverted onto Rte. 3 but I-93 southbound was not affected.
A large number of wreckers responded to the accident scene and the highway's northbound lane was reopened to traffic at 1:30 p.m.
CAPTION: pixslugged 93 driver
Dillon Maloney, a 21-year-old UNH student, was one of the drivers involved in a 35-car pileup on Rte. 93 in Ashland less than a mile north of the Rte. 24 exit Friday morning. Maloney was headed to Loon Mountain in Lincoln for a day on the ski slopes when a blinding snow squall hit the area. His car suffered front end damage in the pileup. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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