The massive pileup occurred in Southeast Texas on foggy Interstate 10 and claimed two lives and left dozens of others injured on Thanksgiving Day.
According to the USA Today, the collision happened in extremely foggy conditions at about 8:45 a.m. Thanksgiving Day on Interstate 10 southwest of Beaumont, a Gulf Coast city about 80 miles east of Houston.
The mass pileup left trucks twisted on top of each other and authorities rushing to pull survivors from the wreckage.
The highway had been crowded with motorists traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of the vehicles were moving close to the posted speed of 70 mph despite dense fog that limited visibility.
Rod Carroll, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, commented on the accident: “It is catastrophic.” He said: “I’ve got cars on top of cars.”
The officer said the fog was so thick that officers did not at first realize that they were dealing with multiple accidents. “Initial reports at the time of the crash indicated there was dense fog, which could be a contributing factor to those crashes,” said Stephanie Davis, Texas Highway Patrol Trooper.
It has been reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety that a man and a woman were killed in a Chevy Suburban SUV crushed by a tractor trailer. DPS has identified them as Vincent Joseph Leggio, 64, and his wife Debra Leggio, 60, of Pearland.
Jefferson County sheriff’s Deputy Rod Carroll said in a news release that 80 to 90 people were transported to hospitals with 10 to 12 of those in serious to critical condition. He said 140 to 150 vehicles were involved in the pileup. Denise Richter with Acadian Ambulance says at least five people who were taken to the hospital were in very critical condition.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, a crash on the eastbound side of the highway led to other accidents in a dangerous chain reaction. There were multiple crashes on the other side of the highway as well, writes the Telegraph.
Sheriff Carroll said that uninjured drivers tried to help as authorities sorted through the wreckage.
“It’s just people helping people,” Rod Carroll said. “The foremost thing in this holiday season is how other travelers were helping us when we were overwhelmed, sitting and holding, putting pressure on people that were injured.”
He continued: “Driving out there, I couldn’t see 10 feet in front of my car.” Sheriff told the Los Angeles Times: “I still had people trying to pass me and I had headlights and sirens on.”
Officials cleared all westbound Interstate 10 for traffic a few hours after the accident, but eastbound Interstate 10 remained shut down Thursday afternoon as officials cleared the scene. Carroll said that some of the tractor-trailers had spilled their hauls and needed more time to clean up their lost loads.
Kelly Sonnier with Labelle Fannett Volunteer Fire and EMS said an 18-wheeler tanker truck began leaking following the accident. Emergency workers made everyone get at least 100 feet from the truck until they could confirm what chemical the truck was carrying.