GERMANTOWN, Md. –At 5:20 a.m. on March 19, Maryland State Police Rockville Barrack troopers responded to a report of a multi-vehicle personal injury collision in the area of Southbound I-270 South of Middle Brook Road.
Upon arriving at the scene, troopers determined that the collision involved eighteen vehicles consisting of three tractor and trailer trucks and fifteen passenger cars or SUVs. All four Southbound lanes of I-270 were shut down as a result of heavily damaged vehicles disabled in the roadway. One tractor and trailer truck involved was carrying a load of slate rocks and numerous large boulders covered the lanes of travel, further complicating recovery efforts.
In addition to the Rockville Barrack patrol troopers, responders to the scene included troopers from the College Park Barrack, the Maryland State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, officers from Montgomery County Police Department, Gaithersburg Police Department, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue, CHART, State Highway Administration, and personnel from four local tow companies. A Montgomery County bus was used to shelter the numerous vehicle occupants and witnesses while personnel worked to clear the scene. Fifteen vehicles were towed from the scene and four vehicle occupants were transported by ground to local hospitals. Lanes 1 and 2 were opened with HOV restrictions lifted by 07:20 a.m., followed by lane 3 at 07:31 a.m. All travel lanes were opened by 08:23 a.m.
The initial investigation indicates that an unknown white tractor and trailer truck abruptly changed from lane 3 to lane 4, causing other vehicles to rapidly brake in an attempt to avoid a collision. A rapid chain of collisions then occurred. Traffic conditions were heavy during the morning rush hour. The unknown white tractor and trailer (box style trailer) was last seen stopping briefly on the right shoulder after the collision but then continued driving Southbound on I-270 away from the scene.
Any member of the public who may be able to assist in identifying the suspect vehicle or who witnessed the collision is encouraged to contact the Maryland State Police Rockville Barrack at 301-424-2101. Trooper Z. O’Neal is the primary investigator in this case. The Maryland State Police encourages all motorist to drive safely and stresses the importance of following distance to help avoid collisions.