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At least 10 killed in multi-car crash in Wisconsin

Discussie gestart

Ronald Verhoog

CEDAR GROVE, Wis. (AP) More than two dozen vehicles crashed on a foggy highway Friday morning, killing 10 people in a pile of charred and twisted metal in the deadliest auto accident in state history. At least 34 others were injured, several critically.

Rescue workers picked through the wreckage for more victims in four smoldering piles along Interstate 43 some 60 miles north of Milwaukee.

"I would just say, that in my 21 years, it's the most horrific scene I have ever seen," Sheboygan County Sheriff Loni Koenig said.

The previous record for fatalities in a Wisconsin traffic accident was nine on May 30, 1937, Wisconsin State Patrol Lt. Nick Scorcio said.

Some victims were burned beyond recognition and authorities said it may take DNA analysis to identify them.

"I can't even describe how awful that scene is out there," Koenig said.

She said seven people were in critical condition at area hospitals.

Families anxiously awaited word about missing relatives.

"My brother didn't show up for work today," said Todd Behling of his brother, Eric. "He would have called. That's why I'm not too hopeful right now. The trouble is, no news is bad news right now."

The crashes happened about 7:30 a.m. local time on both sides of the interstate as heavy fog engulfed the road just west of Lake Michigan. One vehicle after another plowed into each other, and at least eight burst into flames. State Patrol Sgt. John Jones said visibility was "next to nothing" when the first officers arrived.

He said many of the cars may have crashed north of the main collision by driving through the fog at a high rate of speed.

"We have vehicles that have been double stacked vehicles on top of vehicles, vehicles underneath the tractor-trailer unit," Jones said. "I tried to walk around there and get an accurate count of the vehicles, but we couldn't."

Larry Demeny, 45, said he was driving to Milwaukee at 65 mph in his minivan when he slowed down in the fog. He said he saw the underside of a sports utility vehicle and veered into a ditch.

"Everybody behind just kept piling up," Demeny said. "It was kind of eerie. You couldn't see very far. You would just hear brakes squeal and then the sound of metal clashing."

Kevin Fetterer, who swerved his vehicle into the median to escape the pileups, told WHBL-AM radio that cars and trucks plowed into each other for four to five minutes.

"I heard popping noises, which I assumed were gas tanks exploding," he said.

When the fog lifted a few minutes later, Fetterer saw flames rising 20 to 30 feet in the air. The vehicles included several trucks, and the pavement was scarred by black skids marks. One car was smashed between two trucks.

Wreckers removed 10 vehicles from the pileup by early afternoon and were lifting cars to look underneath them for victims.

At a victims' information center at the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department, volunteers from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and area churches took more than 500 calls and talked with people with missing loved ones.

Sandy Janquart came to the center with her daughter-in-law, Ellen Janquart, looking for her son, Daniel. He usually travels the interstate from Sheboygan to Milwaukee, where he works at an advertising agency.

"It's a lot of chaos," Sandy Janquart said. "We just want everyone to pray."
#1 - 12-10-2002, 11:12 uur


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