Diesel fuel leaking from a tractor-trailer caused a chain-reaction wreck before dawn today involving as many as 25 vehicles near the Edmondson Avenue exit on the Baltimore Beltway.
Four injured people were taken to hospitals by ambulance, Maryland State Police said.
State Police identified one of the injured in the accident as Pearl Arrington, 42, of Randallstown. She was listed in fair and stable condition at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center.
Names and conditions of the others injured were not available.
One of the other victims also was taken to Shock-Trauma and two others were taken to St. Agnes Hospital, said Trooper L.D. Martin.
Police said the injuries did not seem to be life-threatening.
For more than two hours after the 5:20 a.m. accident, traffic on the outer loop of the beltway, Interstate 695, was tied up for several miles as troopers and state highway crews cleared the road and cleaned up the spilled fuel.
Trooper Martin, one of the investigators, said witnesses reported that a car-carrier traveling on the beltway was leaking fuel.
"For all we know, he's still going down the road spilling fuel," he said.
Police said the "phantom truck" may have taken the Interstate 95 exit off the beltway. Fuel was spilled on the ramp, causing a tour bus with 10 or 12 passengers to slide off the road, Baltimore County police said. No injuries were reported.
At both accident scenes, State Highway Administration crews spread sand on the road to absorb the spilled fuel, police said.
Yung Freedy, 57, said her car was hit from behind twice. She was not injured.
Mrs. Freedy, a seamstress who was driving to work in Linthicum, said, "People were sliding and spinning, coming toward me."
The late-model Mercedes sedan she was driving was folded like an accordion in the back.
Mrs. Freedy was wearing her seat belt. So was another passenger in her car, her Pomeranian "Teddy." The dog was lying on the front passenger seat, with a seat belt around him, when the accident occurred, Mrs. Freedy said.
Teddy also was not injured -- just a bit "nervous," she said.
"He's a tough little monkey," said her husband, Jack Freedy, who came to the accident scene to help his wife.
Mr. Freedy, who owns Speedy Cleaners in Linthicum, said the dog stays with him at work. Customers know the dog as the "goodwill ambassador of Linthicum," he said, adding that some come in just to see Teddy.
Rain worsened the slick conditions caused by the spilled fuel, Trooper Martin said. A section of the beltway was closed for about 20 minutes shortly before 7 a.m. while road crews spread sand.
Trooper First Class M.S. Wright, who also investigated the wreck at the Edmondson Avenue exit, said the accident would have been much worse if other troopers on their way to work had not been able to help.
"If we hadn't had assistance from troopers going to work, there would have been more accidents," he said.
Investigators said seven vehicles, including another tractor-trailer, involved in the accident were disabled or had stopped. The fuel slick caused many more cars to smack the jersey wall or into minor accidents.