A multi-vehicle crash involving at least 24 cars and trucks took place in Michigan amid ice and snow across the Midwest on Jan. 29, leaving at least eight people hurt.
The crash happened at about 10 a.m. on M-6 in Gaines Township.
Police officers and fire crews rushed to the scene to help several people who were pinned in their vehicles. The vehicles included semi-trucks and a Michigan State Police cruiser.
The scene was described by the Dutton Fire Department, one of the agencies that responded.
“As Rescue 66 pulled on scene, multiple semis in various positions and a myriad of cars were observed in ditches and in the median from both sides of the expressway,” it stated.
The crash closed M-6 for around three and a half hours. Eight people were rushed to area hospitals.
It took place amid “near zero visibility in the intense wind and snow,” according to the Dutton Fire Department.
“We ask everyone at this time to find an alternative route. Stay off the roads if travel isn’t essential. Our resources are stretched very thin at the moment. Help us out with mitigating and preventing further need for emergency response,” the department added.
At a little after 10:00 this morning, DFD received a tone for an unknown crash on WB M6 East of Kalamazoo Avenue. We…
The snarl in Gaines Township wasn’t the only one in Michigan on Tuesday.
Multiple crashes prompted authorities to close I-96 in both directions from Nunica to Marne, according to WOOD-TV.
Drivers were also urged to avoid the areas.
The number of vehicles and injuries were not known but Ottawa County dispatchers said they were sending school buses to the scene to shelter the more than 100 people who were involved in the pileups.
Crashes and accidents are happening all across West Michigan. Stay off the roads if you can and drive slow if you absolutely must go out. https://t.co/dSxIsUiWfq
— Candace Monacelli (@CandaceM_wx) January 29, 2019
Another crash involving at least 15 vehicles on I-196 in Zeeland Township took place around 9:30 a.m. That highway was partially closed but was later reopened.
“It’s really utter chaos,” state police Sgt. David Cope told MLive about the weather conditions and crashes. He confirmed that a state police trooper’s patrol car was struck while the trooper responded to the M-6 crash, but noted the trooper wasn’t inside the vehicle at the time.
Ottawa County Undersheriff Valerie Weiss said that plows are trying to clear the snow but it is being blown right back on the road.
“It’s treacherous out there,” she said. “The blowing snow is the biggest issue.”
— NWS Grand Rapids (@NWSGrandRapids) January 29, 2019
The crashes took place amid a polar vortex that has caused record or near record low temperatures across the United States, with the wind chill making it feel even colder than the actual temperature.
The National Weather Sevice issued a winter storm warning for a large part of Michigan.
“Lake effect snow showers. Blowing and drifting snow. Additional snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches today through tonight. Additional snow accumulations possible Wednesday into Thursday with some blowing and drifting likely,” it said.
“Dangerously cold wind chills expected to develop this afternoon. Wind chills of 25 to 40 below zero expected tonight through Thursday morning.”
The warning will remain in effect until 1 p.m. on Thursday, it said.
The service also urged people to remain indoors.
“A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible,” it said.
“If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Very cold air and the wind will create dangerously low wind chill values. Frostbite can occur quickly and even hypothermia or death if precautions are not taken.”