At least 13 vehicles were involved in the crash, which occurred around 4:30 a.m. in the HOV lane between Fort Hamilton Parkway and Third Avenue.
It is believed that black ice, possibly from water left on the roadway at a nearby construction site, contributed to the pileup. One driver described the scene as resemebly an Olympic luge.
"The ice started all this, I think," driver Jack Corleone said. "Because when I was talking to (another driver), she said she skidded, the van skidded and I skidded. The van plowed into me, and he skidded. It's the ice. I saw the ice there when I came out of the car."
The accident and clean up, which required tow trucks to pull out the vehicles one by one because there is no shoulder, caused major delays in the area. A construction crane was also used to lift the vehicles over the divider to quicken the cleanup process.
"When the guy hit me from the back, I hit (the car in front of me) because I can't stop the car," limousine driver Ebrahim Helaclasy said. "That's it. That's what happened."
The vehicles were deposited on the road next to the highway, and many of them will never be driven again.
"I pushed the brake maybe 200 feet before, but the car didn't stop," driver Fatih Tahmaz said.
Inbound traffic stretched back across the Verrazano Bridge into Staten Island, while only one outbound lane was open.
The victims were taken to a local hospital with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.
The state Department of Transportation sent an inspector, who said that construction workers were not responsible for the water on the roadway and had actually shut off the water supply in anticipation of a cold night.