Saturday, March 18, Michigan State Police were forced to shut down all lanes of traffic on I-96, near Ionia County, after whiteout conditions caused a pileup of dozens of cars. According to MSP, the initial crash happened at around 4:40 p.m. but I-96 wasn’t reopened until after 10 p.m., as police struggled for hours to clear between 50-100 cars from the road. Thankfully, while injuries were reported, none were said to be serious and there were no reported casualties.
Whiteout conditions came on pretty suddenly, drastically reducing visibility, according to Emily Anderson, one of the people involved in the pileup. “It just kind of hit whiteout, and then all of a sudden you couldn’t really see it until you’re about less than 100 feet,” Anderson told Wood TV 8. “And you start hitting the brakes and you try to downplay it. We just started sliding out of control and then just kind of plowed through the back of a couple of vehicles.”
Making matters worse, many drivers reportedly had their lights off, making it nearly impossible to see cars ahead. MSP didn’t say how many people were injured in the pileup but there were enough crashes that buses were taking people to a temporary warming and reunification center at a nearby church.
Drivers and passengers were stuck in their cars for hours in the cold, many of which were injured, while first responders tried to make sense of the mess. There was debris from crashed cars littering the road, which needed to be cleared before first responders could even get to injured drivers. Then getting cars off the road took even longer. After waiting in the cold, many drivers decided to leave their cars and walk out of the pileup but the conditions were so slippery, it was dangerous to even walk away.
Thankfully there were no causalities and all of the injuries were reportedly minor.
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