3 dead, 20-plus hurt in I-94 pileup in Indiana

(UPDATE: Thursday 11:47 p.m.) About 30 vehicles, half of them semi-trucks, collided amid whiteout conditions Thursday afternoon in a massive highway pileup that left three people dead and more than 20 others injured in northwestern Indiana, police said.
AP Wire
Jan 23, 2014

WZZM-TV reported Thursday night that the dead include a married couple from Grand Rapids and a Chicago man. Their names were not immediately released.

The pileup on I-94 involved about 15 semis and about 15 passenger vehicles and pickup trucks, according to Indiana State Police.

One injured person remained trapped in a vehicle hours after the pileup began, police said.

"They're still trying to get to all the vehicles. They are cutting and extricating the vehicles," LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan told The Associated Press amid the rescue effort.

The accident happened near Michigan City, about a 60-mile drive from Chicago, and amid snowy, frigid conditions. I-94 is the main highway heading east from Chicago to Michigan and Indiana, and is the main thoroughfare between the nation's third-largest city and Detroit.

Photos of the scene showed at least a dozen semitrailers jammed together the width of the highway near an overpass. Some passenger cars were sandwiched in the wreckage.

National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Bentley said heavy snow was reported in the area at the time of the crash. He said a band of lake-effect snow moved in late in the afternoon, dropping 1-2 inches of snow per hour and reducing visibility to a quarter mile or less, with some reports of visibility near zero.

The temperature in Michigan City was around 10 degrees on Thursday night.

The city provided two buses that were used to warm people and transport the injured to hospitals, police said.

Eastbound I-94 was expected to remain closed through the night, police said. Cranes and wreckers were being brought in to help clear the scene.

Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Michigan City had received at least 10 patients, said Dr. Jim Callaghan, president of the hospital.

Six people from the accident were taken to IU Health LaPorte Hospital, a nursing supervisor there said.

Dixie Juchcinski told WMAQ-TV that the accident occurred amid whiteout conditions.

"It was kind of a surprise to us because we could only see one or two cars in front of us," Juchcinski said.

Another witness, Laura Burcham, told WLS-TV she was "in tears just looking at it."

 

Comments

michiglen

It is certainly the time of year when non-essential travel means "stay home". And for those of us who do have to travel, extra caution needs to be taken.

However, no matter how cautious and safe we drive, it only takes one driving error from another less cautious or inexperienced driver to ruin everyone's day.

I really feel for truck drivers at this time of year. I am sure that 99.9% of incidents they are involved in are not of their own making. They need to keep pace with traffic, but it only takes one error from a car driver to involve them in an accident not of their making.

My sympathy to the families and friends who lost their loved ones in this accident. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured.

bigdeal

Don't exempt truck drivers, there are plenty of them out there driving over the speed limit in any weather. Some of the worst driving I have ever seen has been from semi drivers.

Wolverine49457

How awful, that stretch of highway is bad even on a nice summer day, the truck traffic is dense and sort of close in, we weren’t surprised to see a truck stop like scene in the road. Some of those guys drive like idiots in the afternoon rush, tailgating, speeding the usual obnoxious behavior so this was bound to happen. Prayers to those injured and the families who lost loved ones.

Former Grandhavenite

They're lucky if there weren't at least a couple trucks involved that were hauling those giant steel coils that you always see on I-94. One of those things moving at full speed could hit a wall and just keep going like it was made of butter.

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