A WOMAN was left seriously injured in hospital after 50 cars were involved in a huge road collision on one of the major arteries into Wigan.
All three emergency services attended the scene on the East Lancs Road which was eventually shut off by police, causing major problems in Wigan, Ashton and Haydock.
Police were first called shortly after 6.15am following reports of a series of collisions. Around 25 vehicles were recovered as a result, but it is thought around 50 were involved in the collisions overall on the stretch of the A580 between Greyhound Island and Golborne Island.
Fire crews attended the scene when they were called at 6.51am when a 60-year-old male had crashed and was stuck inside his car with neck and back injuries.
And after a further incident at 7.07am when three more cars were caught up in the crash, the road was finally closed off.
A number of people suffered minor injuries in the collisions but a woman was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital for treatment to a severe head injury.
Police have confirmed that Wigan Council had fully gritted the road but adverse weather conditions, including a brief rain shower, in the early morning meant the roads quickly froze over again.
Wigan Council gritting manager Mark McCartney praised the efforts of his team but also slammed the Met Office, who failed to raise the alarm for the unexpected rain.
He said: “The borough was gritted on all main routes throughout Wednesday night, including the Atherleigh Way. At 6.15am, there was a rain shower which washed that grit away and froze many roads. It was not forecast and the Met Office, with whom we have a contract, did not provide any information about it - we are considering a formal complaint.
“Nevertheless, within 45 minutes we had mobilised all our gritting teams, who got into the depot and had the vehicles ready and out by 7am to commence regritting the borough. Despite the lack of warning, the team delivered a fast and professional service.”
The road was gritted again and re-opened shortly before 11am.
Wigan’s rush hour was heavily affected as thousands of motorists were delayed - some of them for several hours.
As traffic took diversions, the M6 motorway and Ashton centre became gridlocked.