A woman has died following a huge pile-up on the A40 near Witney, Oxfordshire, involving up to 20 vehicles.
Two other people – a man and a woman – have been taken to hospital. The woman is deemed to have life-threatening injuries while the man's condition is serious but not life-threatening. Up to 15 others are being treated at the scene for minor injuries.
A stretch of the major road near Witney has been closed in both directions while authorities attempt to help the injured and clear the debris. Queues of almost two miles are reported at the scene.
Images on social media showed badly-damaged vehicles strewn across the road following the crash, which took place at 8.22 on Wednesday morning.
David Gallagher, a spokesman for the South Central Ambulance Service, confirmed one adult female had been pronounced dead at the scene.
He said: “We were called at 8.22 following reports of a multiple vehicle accident on the A40 between Witney and Carterton this morning.
“We took one adult female with serious/life-threatening injuries to the John Radcliffe Hospital Major Trauma Unit in Oxford; a male patient with serious injuries was also taken to the John Radcliffe. We assessed and treated a further 10-15 patients with minor injuries at the scene.
“Unfortunately an adult female was declared deceased at the scene.”
Three ambulances, three rapid response vehicles, two ambulance officers and an air ambulance car are at the site of the accident.
Authorities said the incident stretched over 1km and six vehicles had suffered “significant damage” while another 10-15 had minor damage.
Ben Starkey, a lorry driver from Wolverhampton who was caught up in the accident, told The Independent: “I saw two vehicles facing towards me, facing the wrong way down the motorway. Then I saw another accident further ahead and debris across the road.
“There was a seriously injured woman there. From what people have told me, she was out of her vehicle but then went back to her vehicle for an item – a phone or whatever – and another vehicle couldn't stop and struck her. She was seriously injured.
“The air ambulance came and took her to hospital so she must have been in quite a serious condition.
“I continued walking down the road and was met with the scene of a car wedged in the back of an HGV. I believe the passenger in that vehicle was the lady that has passed away.
“I was watching them give her CPR and her partner or husband came up to me and said ‘I can’t believe she’s dead’.”
Mr Starkey said driving conditions were difficult at the time of the accident, with thick fog and ice on the road.
“It was very foggy. Visibility was only about 15 or 20 metres”, he said.
“I didn't realise until I got out of the cab and walked up how icy the road actually was. It was like glass.”
He said a woman had run along the embankment waving at drivers to slow down as they approached the crash site. This allowed him to slow his lorry down enough to avoid hitting the car in front – something he said could have made the accident much worse.
Ami Gaston, another witness, told Sky News fog was responsible for the pile-up.
She said: “Because of the fog we couldn’t see much. We saw a silver car in front of us crash sideways into the barrier with its passenger door open and its air bags released.
“We’re counting our lucky stars. If it had been a couple of seconds later we would have been involved in it.
“A car in front of us had its hazard lights on but because of the fog we couldn’t see it until the last minute so we had to literally swerve to avoid it.
“If it wasn’t foggy it wouldn’t have happened. It was the fog that caused it.”
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