Fatal multi-vehicle I-75 crash

1:30 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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Gina Damron, Matt Helms, Eric D. Lawrence and Megha Satyanarayana, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT -- At least three people are dead and many others injured after a horrific multiple-vehicle accident scene that stretches for more than a mile on I-75 southbound in Detroit, police said.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said two children and an adult were killed. The children were believed to be in the same vehicle and the adult was in a vehicle further up the road, he said.

MSP Capt. Monica Yesh said one child is in critical condition.

Motorists described total white-out conditions as they approached Springwells around 9:30 a.m. Motorists said they slammed on their brakes, but slid on slick, snow covered roads.

"It got real bad, real quick," said Greg Galuszka from Brownstown Township, who was unhurt in the accident. "It turned to ice real quick."

MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said sudden snow squalls whipped across the freeway just after 9 a.m., and although road crews had pre-salted the expressway's lanes, snowfall quickly turned to ice on the I-75 bridge over the Rouge River. The accident started on the bridge, according to MDOT. It's unclear what the visibility was in that area, said meteorologist Debra Elliott from the National Weather Service.

At least a dozen fire and emergency vehicles responded to the scene, and at least 10 flatbed trucks came to assist.

According to a first responder on the scene, one victim's car is shattered with the back of the car folded up over the front of the car.

Detroit EMS Chief Jerald James, though, said a dozen people, not including those killed, were transported to area hospitals with injuries, including broken bones, head trauma and lacerations. He said Detroit had four ambulances and a rapid response unit on the scene and about five private ambulance companies sent four or five units each, as well.

He said 30-plus people were also treated for injuries at the scene. Three victims were transported to Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn by ambulance, said Dr. John Fath, the trauma medical director at Oakwood Healthcare

All are in stable condition and should be released within hours or days, he said. The victims suffered blunt trauma from a motor vehicle collision, said Fath. He could not supply additional details. The patients arrived roughly an hour after the hospital was alerted that it would receive as many as 15 patients from the accident. Fath said he was unsure whether the hospital will get additional patients.

Shaw said police were investigating between eight and 10 crashes within the accident scene. He said between 150 and 200 vehicles were either involved in crashes or were blocked by accidents.

"It's extremely unfortunate," Yesh said. "So many families obviously will be devastated by this."

Some of the vehicles at the scene are totaled, others have minor damage, one appeared to be wedged under a fuel truck and some ran into the embankment.

Northbound I-75 in the same area has been reopened.

According to MSP, southbound I-75 will be closed for at least four hours, and possibly through the evening rush hour. Emergency personnel were focused, as of just before noon today, on rescuing injured motorists.

The Michigan State Police set up a mobile command post to begin coordinating how to remove crashed vehicles and handle hazardous materials removal because several crash-related fuel spills were reported.

The Detroit Fire Department was on scene dealing with spilled diesel fuel.

Phillip Bost, 55, of Ypsilanti was driving a semi truck, hauling auto parts to Flat Rock, in the blinding white conditions this morning when he suddenly heard loud booms and was hit from the front and behind.

"I felt several bangs," he said.

The veteran truck driver said he began helping others out of vehicles and saw victims bleeding and limping away from the crashes.

"It was scary," Bost said.

Detroit Free Press

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