Ind. (AP) More than 40 vehicles, many of them semitrailers, collided
amid whiteout conditions in a massive highway pileup that left three
people dead and more than 20 others injured at least one critically
in northwestern Indiana, police said Thursday.
The pileup on
Interstate 94 eastbound began Thursday afternoon near Michigan City,
about 60 miles from Chicago, according to Indiana State Police, and at
least one person was trapped in a vehicle for hours.
I-94 is the
main highway heading east from Chicago to Michigan and Indiana, and the
main thoroughfare between the nation's third-largest city and Detroit.
Traffic was backed up for hours in frigid snowy conditions, though state
police said one westbound lane was open late Thursday.
Photos of the
scene showed semitrailers and mangled passenger vehicles jammed together
the width of the highway near an overpass. Some passenger cars were
sandwiched in the wreckage.
Weather Service meteorologist Evan Bentley said a band of heavy
lake-effect snow was reported in the area at the time of the crash,
dropping 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour and reducing visibility to a
quarter mile or less with some reports of visibility near zero.
17, of Chesterton, Ind., was riding in a car with three other teens and
saw the crash happen just behind them.
"One of the
semis started sliding and I think it jackknifed in the middle of the
road" and collided with another semi, he said. "After that happened,
multiple semis locked up."
He said a box
truck got stuck on a guardrail and nearly went over into a waterway.
"We were pretty
nervous," he said.
Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said 20 to 30 people were injured, including one
with life-threatening injuries and another who was flown by medical
helicopter to a hospital.
Anthony Health in Michigan City had received at least 10 patients,
hospital president Dr. Jim Callaghan said. Six people from the accident
were taken to IU Health LaPorte Hospital, a nursing supervisor there
said. Porter Regional Hospital also received patients, Wojas said.
side was expected to be closed overnight as cranes and wreckers helped
clear the scene, police said.
in the backup could only wait and try to stay warm as temperatures
hovered around 10 degrees.
37, had a family emergency and was traveling from western Michigan to
Tennessee with her three sons, ages 3, 9 and 10. She told The Associated
Press she'd researched road conditions before leaving because she was
worried about the weather. She didn't know about the accident until
traffic started crawling and then stopped.
hours later, long after she'd planned to stop for dinner, her car was
still sitting on the westbound side of highway. A woman in the car next
to hers noticed she had children with her and offered cereal, popcorn
and fruit to tide the family over.
city buses were brought in to warm stranded motorists and transport the
injured, though Johnson said she hadn't seen them. But she felt
fortunate that she'd gotten gas before leaving Michigan.
"If it weren't
for the fact that I have a full tank and a safe car, this could be a
really dangerous situation," she said.
We are asking the
motoring traffic and people who may want to come out to see what is
going on to STAY AWAY from this area [I-94 between Ind. 49 and the
Michigan State Line]. There are major back-ups in this area and with the
conditions and extreme cold we want to make sure we take care of the
people who are in this back-up now and not add to it.
alternate routes of travel if you need to travel home; if not rethink your