Interstate 94 in northern Indiana was a scene of mangled, burned cars despite the snow that blanketed the ground and blew through the air Thursday evening. Some of the vehicles that lay among the wreckage were crushed between folded semi-tractors, so entangled that responders found it difficult to tell them apart. It only took seconds for over forty vehicles to create a mile-long pile of debris in the whiteout conditions that plagued the evening commute. Victims of the massive pileup were screaming out as emergency responders arrived on scene and attempted to assist the injured as quickly as possible in the freezing cold weather conditions. Three people died and nearly two dozen were injured in the horrific string of crashes.
Coolspring Township Fire Chief Mick Pawlick, a member of one of the first volunteer crews to arrive on scene, said in a news conference Friday, “It was such a devastating scene, you don’t know where to start. There were people in cars that you couldn’t even see.” Rescue crews were forced to quickly prioritize the victims. They had to ask themselves the questions of who needed their assistance first and who could not be saved even with their assistance. As victims were extricated from their vehicles, firefighters worked rapidly to keep everyone warm. Responders also tried to keep victims’ minds off of the tragic situation that they had just experienced.
The series of crashes, which occurred near Michigan City, about sixty miles south of Chicago, were preceded by an abrupt wave of heavy lake-effect know that caught drivers off-guard. It took less than one minute for dozens of cars and numerous tractor-trailers to crash into each other and pile up. Those killed in the string of collisions were Jerry Dalrymple, a Chicago resident, and Thomas Wolma and his wife, Marilyn, Michigan residents. More than twenty people sustained injures, including one who remained in a hospital in critical condition on Friday. One of the survivors, Jeffrey Rennell, was traveling from Chicago to Michigan when his Ford Explorer began to bounce off other vehicles around him. His twisted, mangled SUV was ultimately discovered on top of another vehicle, “encased in semis.” Rennell’s extrication was described as one of the worst that night. Once he was removed from his SUV, he was airlifted to a Chicago hospital, was treated for a broken leg, and was released. Indiana State Police will undertake an investigation of the massive pileup, which may take months to complete.
Mangled metal, victims’ screams mark Ind. pileup www.palmbeachpost.com January 24, 2013
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