Mass I-94 Pile-up Leaves 1 Dead, 3 Seriously Injuredby Jana Ritter - Published: 1/18/2016
Not even a week after the major I-74 pile-up in Indiana, a series of crashes involving 15 semi-trucks and 52 cars occurred on Sunday along I-94 in Southwestern Michigan. The tragedy has left one person dead and 3 with life threatening injuries, including a Van Buren County deputy who was struck while helping a crash victim with a broken leg. Officials say low visibility, people driving too fast for the snowy road conditions and following too closely behind other vehicles are to blame.
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According to the Michigan State Police, the first crash happened in the eastbound lanes at around 2:00 p.m. and involved one semi-truck and 8 cars. While no serious injuries resulted from the initial crash, the incident combined with low visibility caused traffic to back up along the highway. Then approximately a quarter mile behind that crash, two semis collided and caused a chain reaction pile-up involving 44 vehicles, including 8 semi-trucks. It was that accident that left one person dead, 3 critically injured and 11 with minor injuries. If that wasn’t bad enough, a third crash occurred almost around the same time and involved 6 semis and 6 cars. Police say that there were also a number of other accidents involving one or two cars.
Latrelle Pickens of Southfield, Michigan described the scene along I-94 as a brick wall of cars. "We were going really slow. Visibility was poor because of the way the snow was going with the wind. We all had our hazards on because we couldn't see,” Pickens said. "All of a sudden we could see but it was like a brick wall of cars because everyone was stopped." Pickens explains that it was difficult to stop because the road was so slick, from either ice or fluid spilled from other cars in the wreck. She said she braked and was hit from behind by another car, which launched her into a vehicle in front of her. She ended up sideways and another car hit her passenger side. "Looking forward, it was all kinds of semis. I couldn't see where the cars ended. It was just all this wreckage," said Pickens.
The incident caused so much wreckage that police from 4 agencies were called out to the scene to assist Michigan State Police attending to victims and conducting the investigation. The highway was shut down in both directions for 6 hours and re-opened at 8:30 pm Sunday evening. Nearly 70 crash victims who weren't injured were shuttled to a nearby church where the American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter. There, they were interviewed by state police and were later driven back to their vehicles or had to wait for family members and friends to pick them up if their vehicles were too damaged to drive.