Around 9:30 AM on Thursday, December 8, 2016, Michigan's Livingston County Police dealt with a 40 car pileup that left 3 dead and 11 injured on the westbound side of I-96 between the the Okemos and Williamston exits. The pileup was a result of the recent snowfall causing whiteout conditions and had later frozen over the roads making them a hazard.
“It was very chaotic for them to get to the victims to assess the situation,” Livingston County's Lt. Eric Sanborn said at a news conference.
When the police finally arrived to the scene, they found a semi-truck that had been jackknifed across the majority of the lanes on I-96. They counted about a dozen vehicles that were scattered across ditches. Some drivers were located on the median or shoulder of the highway and several dozen other vehicles were found to be severely damaged and had to be quickly removed from the road.
The accident was so extensive, that the police closed down both the east and westbound lanes in order to rescue the cars that had slid into the median. Authorities also had to extend westbound I-96’s closure from M-59 to M-52 until later that evening, in order to properly remove the vehicles from the roadway. The eastbound expressway later opened for traffic at 2:50 PM.
Kathleen Gray, a Detroit Free Press reporter, was headed to Lansing, Michigan when she encountered the accident. She said the pileup caused "the most terrifying sound" she ever heard. Gray herself was almost hit by a tractor-trailer that skid on the ice behind her and was unable to flee due to traffic being at a standstill. "Fortunately, he was able to stop before plowing into me," Gray said, noting that "it probably took about an hour to get through the accident scene. Traffic was able to pull around the jackknifed tractor-trailer on the shoulder of the freeway."
With this recent snowfall and future ones in Michigan's forecast, drivers should let this accident serve as a grim reminder to drive slow, when there is snow.
As stated by the Free Press, the Michigan Department of Transportation announced that they, along with several road commissions and municipalities, will start using green lights on winter maintenance vehicles, which they hope will better catch drivers' attention and help reduce car crashes. No matter what precautions are taken however, car accidents are still always possible. If you or someone you know has been in an auto accident caused by hazardous weather conditions, please contact The Michigan Law Firm PLLC. Call us, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.