The massive I-94 pileup in whiteout conditions has left three people dead and more than 20 injured.
The crash, involving more than 40 vehicles, including 15 semi-trucks forced authorities in Northwest Indiana to close the busy interstate for hours on Thursday evening, as was reported by The Inquisitr.
Authorities said Friday, the dead are a couple from Michigan and a man from Chicago, as crews worked to clear up the pileup on I-94.
More than 20 people were injured — some critically — in the wreck after several smaller cars were pinned under the big rigs for hours in the frigid weather.
Snow and whiteout conditions were contributing factors in the I-94 pileup near Michigan City, Indiana police said.
A band of heavy lake-effect snow was dropping up to two inches of snow per hour, making visibility less than a quarter-mile at the time of the wreck, National Weather Service reported.
LaPorte County coroner John Sullivan said early Friday that Thomas Wolma, 67, and his 65-year-old wife Marilyn, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were killed when they were caught up in the massive I-94 crash as they were returning home after taking care of a relative in Wisconsin.
The third victim is Jerry Dalrymple, 65, of Chicago, Sullivan said, he was killed in his car, along with his dog.
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) January 24, 2014
— Go By Truck (@GoByTruck) January 24, 2014
— 24 Salt Lake NEWS (@24SaltLakeNews) January 24, 2014
— Niki Seferagic (@NikiSeferagic) January 24, 2014
UPDATE: Death toll grows to 3 in I-94 pile up. http://t.co/c46Pzt5UKU pic.twitter.com/aHWw1iDxxO
— South Bend Tribune (@SBTribune) January 24, 2014
Scott Collins, 17, of Chesterton, Indiana, was riding on I-94 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…. We were pretty nervous.”
The eastbound lanes of I-94 remained close Friday morning as crews worked to clear up the pileup with cranes and wreckers, said state police spokesperson Larry Koebcke. Authorities have not indicated when the lanes will reopen.
Drivers stuck in their vehicles tried to stay warm as temperatures reached around 10 degrees ahead of a mass of polar air that will affect much of the country in the coming days.
For first responders to the I-94 pileup, the scene is one they won’t soon forget.
“It was such a devastating scene you don’t know where to start,” Mick Pawlik with the Coolspring Volunteer Fire Department said at a press briefing Friday morning. “It will live with us forever.”
They look at us like we’re Moses parting water,” Pawlik said. “I try to get their minds off it.”
The I-94 pileup is one that will surely go on the record books.