January 1, 2012

Driving up the coast of Oregon can be terrifying if you run into fog. The road disappears, sound is distorted and you lose all sense of direction. If you add smoke from a nearby brush fire to that, you have the conditions that led to a pileup on the East Coast. The series of accidents claimed 10 lives and sent 18 to the hospital with serious injuries.

Police say the stretch of six-lane highway had been closed for a while before the accident. When they reopened the road, the fog and smoke rolled back in. Visibility quickly deteriorated. According to a survivor, “You couldn’t see anything.” He added that vehicles were pulling off the road to wait it out.

He stopped in a line of cars and started to talk to the man in the car next to him. The survivor said that a car smashed into the man’s car from behind, sending it into the tractor trailer ahead of him. The car was crushed under the truck. As the mayhem began to unfold, the survivor and his passenger escaped their vehicle and made their ways to the shoulder of the road.

Half a dozen cars and six big-rigs crashed around them. Cars were crushed between or under the trucks, and many caught fire. Fire consumed one tractor trailer, leaving only its skeleton. Tires were consumed in the flames, until only the steel belts remained.

The wreckage covered all six lanes of the interstate for almost a mile. The road was closed until late the next night as investigators examined and workers cleared the wreckage.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims.

Source: Associated Press, “Cause sought for deadly Fla. highway pileup,” Mike Schneider, Jan. 30, 2012



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