Interstate 74 completely reopened Tuesday night after a massive chain reaction crash of 40 vehicles that shut it down for several hours near the Ohio/Indiana border.
Both accidents happened within the same half-mile on westbound I-74 in whiteout conditions around 10:45 a.m. and involved several jackknifed semi tractor-trailers, according to Indiana State Police.
Six people were injured and transported from the scene to hospitals, said police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Wheeles. They are expected to recover.
"Your life flashes in front of your face," said Robert Honeycutt, who was one of those hurt. "There was all kinds of thoughts going through my head,"
He said he was driving a semi-trailer pulling a dark red cab and swerved to miss a stopped truck. That's when several vehicles struck his.
"I felt them hitting me, and as they did, it kept crushing my cab until there was hardly any room for me anymore," he said. "It just kept destroying the whole shell of the tractor."
It took an hour for rescue crews to extricate, or cut him, out of the truck. He suffered a broken knee cap that will require surgery.
The crashes were likely caused by reduced visibility and further complicated by unfavorable road conditions, officials said.
"All of the sudden the winds came from the left, came from the right," said Trent McCracken, who was in the pile-up. "The snow on both sides was blowing and visibility just pretty much went to zero.
Moments later McCracken said tractor-trailers began to jackknife.
"I saw another semi go through my left mirror down the median and I saw another semi go by my right mirror," McCracken said.
Luckily, McCracken said his car was untouched and he was able to drive on the shoulder to the nearest exit.
Snow squalls late Tuesday morning reduced visibility to near zero in some areas of the Tri-State.
"It doesn't happen too often but we do get it from time to time, and it's usually in these situations where we get this type of weather," Sgt. Wheeles said.
Close to 30 vehicles involved in I-74 crash pic.twitter.com/4xVICrMHxc— Sgt. Stephen Wheeles (@ISPVersailles) January 12, 2016
Close to 30 vehicles involved in I-74 crash pic.twitter.com/4xVICrMHxc
The American Red Cross provided coffee, hot chocolate, snacks and blankets for drivers stuck in the pileup.
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