Local girls basketball team among travelers stuck in Liberty Tunnels for hours after crash

PITTSBURGH — Gridlock. Not just inside the Liberty Tunnels Thursday night but also up and down PJ McCardle and the Liberty Bridge. More than 20 paramedics navigated the backups and started cutting cars to get to people who were trapped.

“This could have been us,” said Jillian Acker. “As much as we were frustrated with being 5-10 minutes late, I mean those five minutes could have led us right into that crash.”

Jillian Acker coaches the South Park Girls Basketball team. She says she was on the bus with 14 high school girls, heading to a game, when they hit standstill traffic inside the Liberty Tunnel.

“We’re looking around, and we’re like something’s not right,” said Acker.

Acker says their bus was stopped, halfway through the tunnel, for about two hours.

“We saw one of the law enforcements came over,” said Acker. “He tapped on the window, and he was like you’re going to have to back this up. We’re getting everyone out.”

The Liberty Tunnel is about a mile. Acker says their bus driver told everyone to sit down and be quiet while he drove the bus in reverse for about half a mile.

“I give credit,” said Acker. “Let alone backing up my car. A school bus with 14 girls that have been on the bus for two hours. It was a lot, but he did great.”

Besides patience, Acker says her team learned another valuable lesson Thursday evening. The impact, one seemingly small moment, could have on your life.

“The biggest thing we said on the bus yesterday while we were sitting there was one of our players ran back in to get her stuff from the trainer,” said Acker. “She forgot it. That five extra minutes could have put us in the best position, we were all kind of mad at her. Come on girl. Why’d you have to run back in. We’re now five minutes later than we want to be but at the same time that five minutes could have led us in that crash.”

The girls made it to the game about an hour late and won.

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