A man in his 50s was airlifted to hospital Thursday following the second of two multi-vehicle crashes to occur on Highway 401 by early afternoon.

Ontario Provincial Police say the crash, which happened around 10:30 a.m. between Trafalgar Road and the Highway 407 ramps, was likely the result of “ongoing congestion and delays” caused by an earlier crash just a few kilometres away.

“The collision took place right on the 401 just underneath the 407, which is just a couple of kilometres west of where we had that earlier crash at Winston Churchill,” Schmidt said.

The crash forced police to close all eastbound lanes of Highway 401 at Trafalgar Road near Milton for several hours. The lanes reopened shortly before 2 p.m.

The westbound lanes at Trafalgar Road were also temporarily closed to allow an Orgne air ambulance to land and transport the victim, who needed to be extricated from his vehicle.

“He was trapped in his vehicle until he was extricated by EMS,” Schmidt said. “Right now it does appear that his injuries are serious but, at this point, not life-threatening, which is very good news.”

Earlier, police closed all but one eastbound lane on Highway 401 at Winston Churchill Boulevard as a result of a five-vehicle crash involving three passenger vehicles and two transport trucks.

Schmidt said the crashes involved “similar situations” where traffic was slowing due to morning rush hour and a vehicle was rear-ended, causing a chain reaction.

Though the vehicles sustained “very significant damage,” no one suffered any serious injuries.

“It looks like traffic was probably slowing down and one of the vehicles hit the back of traffic and sheared off the trailer and then destroyed two vehicles,” he said of the first crash. “Looking at the damage it certainly could have been far worse.”

OPP and Ministry of Transportation officers have been called in to investigate both crashes.

Schmidt said both crashes left “a lot of mess and debris” and that heavy tow vehicles were required to help clear the highway.