At 11:20 p. m. , e. d. s. t. , October 23, 1973, on the northern section of the New Jersey Turnpike, between Gate 15 and U.S. Route 46, the first of a series of nine collisions occurred. Eight accidents followed between that time and 2:45 a.m., October 24, 1973.
The latter collisions occurred under limited visibility conditions. The conditions were caused by a combination of smoke from burning material in an abandoned garbage dump in the Hackensack Meadowlands and fog.
Although responsible officials were aware of the hazardous conditions before the collisions, precautions to assure the safety of the motorists did not prevent the series of accidents. At 12:45 a. m., officials began to close affected areas of the Turnpike. By 3:04 a. m., on October 24, 1973, the areas were closed. During that time, eight people were killed in six collisions.
In all, 66 motor vehicles were involved; 9 persons were killed, and 39 others were injured.