ELYSBURG - Witnesses of a brutal four-vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer that crushed the rear of a Ford Mustang were astonished Monday afternoon that no one died.

The chain-reaction accident on Route 54 just outside Elysburg sounded like a "half of stick of dynamite exploding," said Brad Anecki, who lives next to the scene of the accident at 438 N. Market St.

The 2:30 p.m. collision - which trapped two drivers in their cars - occurred just west of Farnsworth Camping Center facility while a mixture of snow and rain fell throughout the region.

"The person in the middle car, I didn't think he'd survive. Look at it. Half the car is under the truck," he said about the Mustang.

Jeremy Gehret, of Elysburg, who was driving a few car lengths behind the vehicles involved, watched the scene unfold.

"It was bad. I'm surprised..." Gehret said, trailing off. "When I ran over to the black car (the Mustang), I was nervous as to what I'd find."

Police did not release the names of the people in the crash Monday night, but said five people were taken to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, after the accident.

Freeing the drivers

More than a dozen emergency responders worked for nearly 40 minutes to free two people: the driver of a silver Toyota Prius and the driver of the Mustang.

The back of the Mustang was crushed by the cab of the tractor-trailer, owned by Kova Schetz Trucking, of Sunbury. The front left wheel rested slightly on what remained of the rear of the Mustang while responders attempted to free the driver from the crushed car. With a hydraulic tool, firefighters peeled back twisted metal and debris to reach the individual.

The driver of the Mustang was freed at 3:10 p.m. and was taken by stretcher to an ambulance.

About 10 minutes earlier, the driver of the Prius was freed from the vehicle and also taken by stretcher to an ambulance.

Both drivers were moving and conscious during the ordeal.

At 2:40 p.m., a person wearing an oxygen mask and neck brace was taken by stretcher to an ambulance. Another individual with an arm injury was later escorted away from the scene.

How it happened

Gehret was traveling east toward Elysburg a few car lengths behind the tractor-trailer, which was following the Mustang.

Gehret said it appeared the Mustang slowed, then the tractor trailer collided with the back of the vehicle. The Mustang was forced sharply into westbound lane, where it collided with the Prius, he said.

The cab of the tractor-trailer then crushed the back of the Mustang. The chain reaction also caused a blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck to collide with the Prius.

The truck sustained minor damage to the front bumper.

'Still shaking'

Anecki, owner of Brad's Motorcycle and ATV Repair, was in his house with his family when he heard the crash.

Both Gehret and Anecki called 911 immediately and provided assistance to the victims while waiting for emergency responders. Anecki provided blankets and chairs for those able to get out of the cars; Gehret attempted to keep the trapped individuals conscious when he was unable to open the vehicle doors.

"I'm still shaking, from the cold and from seeing it happen," Gehret said.

Responding were AREA Services, Elysburg Ambulance and Danville Ambulance, fire police, officers from Ralpho Township Police, state police at Stonington, Northumberland County Department of Public Safety and more than a dozen firefighters from Ralpho Fire Company, Elysburg Fire Company and Shamokin Emergency Squad.

Motorists traveling Route 54 in and out of Elysburg were detoured onto Penn Avenue and Southview Drive until 9:25 p.m., about seven hours after the crash occured.