MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) — A massive highway pileup being blamed on whiteout conditions killed at least two people and injured scores of others Thursday afternoon in northwestern Indiana, police and a coroner said.
LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan confirmed the two deaths and said the toll could rise because cars were trapped under semitrailers and hadn't been searched.
"It's looking grim. There may be many more fatalities," Sullivan told WLS-TV in Chicago. "The clock is working against us."
Coroners from surrounding counties were asked to go to the scene.
Indiana State Police said Interstate 94 eastbound was closed. Cranes and wreckers were being brought in to help clear the scene, and school buses were being summoned to keep people stuck in the pileup warm.
Sullivan estimated that 15 to 20 people with lesser injuries had been taken to a LaPorte, Ind., hospital.
The accident occurred around 3:30 p.m. Thursday near Michigan City.
Photos of the scene showed at least a dozen tractor-trailers jammed together the width of the highway near an overpass. Some passenger vehicles cars were sandwiched in the wreckage.
Dixie Juchcinski told WMAQ-TV that the accident occurred during a snowstorm.
"When we first came to a stop, it was a complete white out," Juchcinski said. "It was kind of a surprise to us because we could only see one or two cars in front of us."
National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Bentley said heavy snow was reported in the area at the time of the crash. He said a band of lake effect snow moved in late in the afternoon, dropping 1 to 2 inches of snow an hour and reducing visibility to a quarter mile or less, with some reports of visibility near zero.
- Transport Accident