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Massive pileup on I-94 kills 3, more than 20 hurt

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) - A couple from Michigan and a man from Chicago were killed in a massive pileup on a snowy interstate in northwestern Indiana, authorities said Friday, as crews cleaned up after the 40-plus-vehicle wreck.

More than 20 people were injured, including one critically, in the crush of semitrailers and mangled passenger vehicles Thursday afternoon on the eastbound stretch of Interstate 94 connecting Chicago with Detroit. At least one person was trapped in a vehicle for hours before authorities could come to the rescue, Indiana State Police said.

Snow and whiteout conditions were contributing factors, police said. A band of heavy lake-effect snow was dropping up to 2 inches of snow per hour with visibility at a quarter-mile or less at the time of the wreck, National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Bentley said. The wreck happened near Michigan City, about 60 miles from Chicago.

Thomas Wolma, 67, and his 65-year-old wife Marilyn, were killed in the crash, LaPorte County coroner John Sullivan said early Friday. The Wolmas, of Grand Rapids, Mich., were returning home after taking care of a relative in Wisconsin when they were caught up in the massive crash, Sullivan said, citing the couple's son.

Sullivan said Jerry Dalrymple, 65, of Chicago, was killed in his car, along with his dog.

The eastbound lanes of I-94 remained closed Friday morning as crews continued working to clear the scene, state police Cpl. Larry Koebcke said. Cranes and wreckers were brought in to help remove the wreckage, and officials haven't estimated when all the lanes will reopen.

Drivers stuck in the backup Thursday could only wait and try to stay warm as temperatures hovered around 10 degrees.

Stacey Johnson, 37, had a family emergency and was traveling from western Michigan to Tennessee with her three sons, ages 3, 9 and 10. She told The Associated Press she'd researched road conditions before leaving because she was worried about the weather. She didn't know about the accident until traffic started crawling and then stopped.

Nearly five hours later, long after she'd planned to stop for dinner, her car was still sitting on the westbound side of the highway. A woman in the car next to hers noticed she had children with her and offered cereal, popcorn and fruit to tide them over.

Scott Collins, 17, of Chesterton, Ind., was riding in a car with three other teens and saw the crash happen just behind them.

"One of the semis started sliding and I think it jackknifed in the middle of the road" and collided with another semi, he said. "After that happened, multiple semis locked up. ... We were pretty nervous."

Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said 20 to 30 people were injured, including one with life-threatening injuries and another who was flown by medical helicopter to a hospital.

Massive 45 Car Pileup On IN Highway Kills 3

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pozzy456 January 24 2014 at 5:15 PM

SO sad God Bless them all, and may lost ones rest in peace. :(

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jdollinter January 24 2014 at 11:51 AM

About 4 years ago we had a sudden snow storm in Seattle that started out as rain and quickly turned to freezing rain, wet snow then dry snow and ice pellets. Even though there was less than 3 inches of snow on the freeway it happened at rush hour and none of the trucks or buses were chained and suddenly there were lots of jack knifing and spin outs and the salt trucks were unable to enter the freeway with the heavy traffic everywhere including the break down lanes. We spent 7 hours on the freeway that night just to make the 60 mile journey from Tacoma to Seattle and only lucked out when we decided to try going over the cordoned off W Seattle Bridge
and our old FWD Buick made it up the steep grade and crawled home on surface streets in downtown Seattle. It wasn't just the snow that night but the combination of layers of ice, freezing rain, wet snow and dry snow that made the roads treacherous. A lot of people took buses home from work during rush hour packed in like sardines with standing room only, we must of passed 50 of these articulated commuter buses and the people standing were trapped on those buses for 12 hours with no bathroom, water etc. They didn't get home until after 3 AM.
It was a lesson I won't soon forget. Now I always carry flashlight, batteries and an emergency kit in the trunk with blankets, flares first aid, water and everything they recommend for these types of disasters.

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hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 9:42 PM

I can see that the comments are not getting much better from last night or this mornings postings, there are a few more people taking up for the truck drivers. thanks for the support. As for the ones that hate truck drivers so much. If you do your research you will find that the truck drivers and the industry is more regulated and has more rules than airlines and pilots have. Regardless of what you think we do not wake up, get behind the wheel with the intentions of finding someone to terrorize or kill with our trucks. For the most part we are simply trying to make a living and take care of our families. We give up our home time to do the job. We spend days, weeks and sometimes months on the road, putting up with your bad manners and bad driving skills. Yes there are a few bad apples out there that slipped through the cracks. Or had a break down after getting on the road. I can assure you that most of you that are complaining about us don't have a clue what it takes to do this job, nor could you do it yourself. It is a shame that we are no longer considered the White Knights of the road, but I can assure you that there are a lot more cars and trucks on the road and the road rage thing is not confined to truck drivers. And the next time you drive by one of these trucks remember they can and do see everything that you do inside of your car. From drinking a beer or bottle of whiskey, smoking a joint, changing your clothes, putting on makeup, brushing your teeth talking on your cell phone, by the way we are regulated on that also, we have to use a blue tooth device or face getting a ticket that stays on our records for a long time, and a lot of companies will not hire us if we have that on our record. We can see you having sex with or without a partner, In the 40 years and over 4 million miles I have driven I have seen all of this and more. so you have a lot of distractions going on in those cars. If you don't have the trucks you wouldn't have the interstates to drive on, it is the high taxes that are put on trucks that are supposed to pay for the upkeep of these roads. We pay for the right to be on that road. You all need to learn how to drive around us. We don't like being on the road with you any more than you want to be there with us. You put our life's in danger more than you realize. So stop blaming trucks for everything, accidents happen, it isn't God, fate , the devil or the crazy truck drivers causing these accidents. It is just that an accident, you are in the wrong place at the right time. I agree we all have a tendency to speed and not be as nice as we should be towards each other, I don't see it getting any better, and I would be willing to say it will get worse. So slow down, show some respect and if you can't do that stay home.

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2 replies
lmwittenhagen hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 10:02 PM

well said! I've driven semis, I went with my dad on many trips when I was young (a trucker and owner) and truckers then and most now are curious and cautious. I'll never forget going over Monument pass in a horrible snow storm and CBing two trucks and asking if I could get in the cradle because I couldn't see anything and I was in my car. They recognized my handle and said come on in and we went all the way to Denver with them protecting me. Anyone who says truckers are the cause of accidents have never seen a car cut them off and expect that weight to stop on a dime. by the way my handle was "wild child" :)

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katydid579 hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 10:15 PM

" You all need to learn how to drive around us. We don't like being on the road with you any more than you want to be there with us." Yep, that is truly telling it like it is. You think you own the road? Then why are you spending so much time looking into our cars instead of keeping your eyes on the road???

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2 replies
hartbrkr8285 katydid579 January 24 2014 at 10:24 PM

we are looking for terrorist, and kid napped kids and alcoholics and dope addicts. so we can alert the cops and get them off the road. it occupies our time.

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hartbrkr8285 katydid579 January 24 2014 at 10:28 PM

we don't want to be on the road with you because we know that you are putting our lives in as much danger as we are yours. we try to stay away from you , but u insist on riding on our bumpers where we can't see you. you insist on cutting us off and we can't stop 40 tons of weight in twenty feet. we don't want to be on the road with your because we know it is an accident waiting to happen. and you would be surprised at how many women want to strip and ride beside trucks. we don't make them do it, they just do. and no we don't think we own the road, but we do pay for a very large portion of it through taxes , tags and fees.

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hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 10:42 PM

Here it is. it has finally come to a head and time to put a stop to it all. Guns kill people, Food kills people, Cars kill people, Trains kill people, Trucks kill people, Forks kill people. Heck People kill people, it is time to blow this world up and end it all. It was an accident, it happens sad for the people involved but it is a true fact of life. You ain't getting out alive. You start breathing when u are born and you stop breathing when you die. If we don't get killed today, it will be tomorrow or next year . There are no easy answers but blaming truck drives isn't helping either. Call your congressmen/women and insist that they get all trucks off the road or you won't vote for them. That should fix all of your problems.

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hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 10:55 PM

Reticop: You do realize that people in general have a much worse opinion of cops than they do truck drivers. and there have been many a life lost because some cop didn't use common sense in running 80-100 miles per hour when they were not chasing someone. Or they wanted to use a truck driver as an example. Of course like truck drivers there are the exception to the few that are good and descent and just trying to make a living and do the right thing, however in your two rants you pretty much paint truck drivers as evil killing machines that don't deserve to breath air. Are you going to go crazy and pull your gun and kill them like that retired cop in the theater did recently , because you have a bad attitude and because you were a cop doesn't make you perfect. Why don't you do some research and find out how many of your fellow officers have killed innocent people through negligence on their part, I can give you several examples to start with. There are good and bad in all professions, which one do you consider yourself to be?

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2 replies
Mackisus hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 11:31 PM

Yeah, I have to agree with you...I read that long-winded rant(s) from Reticop..what's with the large caps, does it help him make his point more loudly? I just retired from trucking after 27 years, been in some really bad storms, one last year that I could not see the road, and I was driving about 5 mph. I attempted to pull off to clean my wiper blades, next thing I knew it was time for a tow truck. Luckily I was the only one out there. Why so many trucks in the picture? Well, duh, if one experienced driver couldn't see, then why not the rest? I won't bad mouth cops, I have had many good breaks with troopers over the years...why is this guy so angry?

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1 reply
hartbrkr8285 Mackisus January 24 2014 at 11:42 PM

seems he wrote a book and is trying to plug get in a free plug from the thing Mackisus. Too bad he doesn't have his facts straight. Don't know how old he was when he started doing his photography work and then became a cop but one of his post it has been 45 yrs since he covered his last on in In. and he became a cop in Fl. but it was in the 50's when he was shooting the pictures. so the time frame and the years just don't add up, he must be close to 80 and he is just mad that he has lived this long. As for putting down cops, there are good and bad in them also, I have family and good friends that are cops and they will tell you that there are A holes on the force that shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun and should be behind bars. as for the large type, I suppose at his age his eyes are going bad along with his brain cells. lol I can't help it people like him make me want to get their bp up so they can kick the bucket and get out of their misery.

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Bruce hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 11:44 PM

Agreed! Cops are some of the worst when it comes to speeding. And when you call to report them their boss only tells you that ,"they were on a call." Yeah, sure they were. The last one that I saw speeding I managed to follow. Right to the drive thru line at McDonalds! And he even put on his overhead lights to run through a stop light! No wonder people drive like idiots. Look at the example they're setting for us!!!!

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1 reply
hartbrkr8285 Bruce January 25 2014 at 12:07 AM

totally agree Bruce, I see it every day. I get on the cb and challenge them to set a better example. not that they listen or care. they have the badge and the lights. doesn't mean they are right but they are the law. would hate to see how much damage they would do getting to a turned over doughnut truck. lol

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hartbrkr8285 January 24 2014 at 11:53 PM

katydid579 from reading a few of your other comments I can understand your anger with the truck driver that caused your accident, that is no reason to blame all truck drivers but I understand that is a way of life. I also know that there are two sides to every story and unless we heard the truck drivers side we could not make a fair assumption of the facts. so I suppose you will keep your hatred and make yourself miserable for the rest of your life. that really is a shame but it happens. so we will agree to disagree that all truck drivers are bad. as a truck driver being one of the first on an accident scene I have helped pull my share of people out of mangled cars. and I have watched a few die, I have also watched a few truck drivers die because they chose to turn the wheel and lose their life instead of killing the people that pulled out in front of them. so now we have an eye for an eye, a truck driver hurt you and someone in a car killed a truck driver. do u really want to go through the rest of your life feeling this way. you have to understand there are more cars and trucks on the highway every year so there is going to be accidents. they are called accidents for a reason, noone left their bed that morning with the intentions of killing someone but they did. I wish the best for you and hope that you find peace within yourself.

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1 reply
neutralslamm hartbrkr8285 January 25 2014 at 12:10 AM

Without truck drivers the coddled masses would have empty shelves (and mailboxes) at the market place.

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sflorez January 25 2014 at 12:12 AM

It could be that the semi was sliding and jack-knifed because he was trying to avoid someone that either skidded or hit their brake or changed lanes right in front of it. Let us not judge too quickly. Like someone said, let's wait to hear the truck driver's side of the story. No matter what happened I'm sure the truck driver is feeling like he/she could have done something different. And let's not forget those that died and their families, let's keep them in our prayers also. Those injured will need lots of support as well.

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Aga January 24 2014 at 11:39 AM

I'm just sending my prayers for all involved in this crash. I am so sorry people had died there...

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Abby517N January 25 2014 at 12:25 AM

This is such a very sad and tragic story to read.My thoughts are with everyone involved in this tragic accident and my thoughts are with their families tonight as well because things like this can cause very tragic and sometimes deadly accidents too :'(

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goldacane January 25 2014 at 12:50 AM

Right now everyone is angry at everyone else on the road. Understandable, and for those who do a lot of highway driving with or without weather hazards, there's at least a little fear as well. Give time to calm yourselves, come to terms with this tragedy, and then look at the whole picture again. In weather like this, think hard about whether your trip is really that necessary right now, could it wait till next day? You know as well as anyone that drivers as a group, regardless of vehicle, are like any other group. There are smart drivers and dumb ones. Good ones and those who should never leave their driveways alone if at all. Semis usually are driven by pros who are on a serious time line. If their cargo is fresh food, they can't afford to be late with a delivery or they lose the business, and the cost of the cargo. Driving their rigs is how they earn their living.
Yes, they take risks they shouldn't, but don't we all? I've lost count of the times a driver has helped me through bad weather without scolding at me for being on the road. If you don't have a functional CB radio in you car, GET ONE NOW. It is the only device that lets you talk with more than one driver at a time, hands free, and because semi cabs are much higher than any auto, their drivers see much more of the road than you can, and are an immediate source of info and cautions. This was a tragedy, by definition a dreadful event. Everyone involved in it in any way will be affected for a very long time. The best thing you can do for yourself and others on the road with you is to cry, grieve, and get on with your life. You will learn to forgive as you want to be forgiven, and you won't forget. What can you learn about driving a machine from this? How careful will you be next time? How aware of other drivers on the road will you be? If you live in this part of the country, you need to know what roads look like when covered with a bed of ice, covered slush and snow, blowing winds, and salt and sand. This is not dry pavement. You must adjust your driving habits to suit the road. We have yet to invent a roadbed that will adjust to a vehicle. So we all need to remember that the biggest factor in such accidents is often the human factor. And behave and control your vehicle as you wish everyone else would.

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