I-94 set to reopen after 22-car pile up

2008-02-20T00:00:00Z I-94 set to reopen after 22-car pile upTHE TIMES nwitimes.com
February 20, 2008 12:00 am  • 

LAPORTE COUNTY | Westbound Interstate 94 was set to reopen by about 2:30 p.m. after being shuttered for six hours from the Michigan state line to Michigan City in the wake of a massive 22-car pile up.

State police reported at least 10 semitrailers and 12 passenger cars involved in the crash at 7:10 a.m. in white out conditions.

Eight people were taken to St. Anthony Memorial Hospital in Michigan City. According to state police, one was admitted for a broken leg and facial lacerations. All others were treated and released.

State police reported 350 gallons of diesel fuel spilled as a result of the accidents, creating a hazardous materials situation as well.

Crews with forklifts and other heavy machinery worked to remove debris from damaged semis and cargo littering the roadway throughout the morning and early afternoon. All traffic was being diverted off the expressway at the 40 mile marker, which is the U.S. 20 exit in LaPorte County.

Among the drivers involved was Syed Neqvi who was transporting stone tile from Canada to Minnesota. He was not injured, but his semi came to rest sideways across the interstate at the Johnson Road Bridge, about three miles east of the U.S. 421 exit.

The lake effect snows blamed for the pile up are expected to continue until around 6 p.m., when they should diminish to snow showers, according to the National Weather Service.

Around 2 to 4 inches of snow fell overnight with another 2 to 4 inches expected by evening. Due to the nature of lake effect snow, the amounts could vary greatly, even over short distances.

The National Weather Service issued a lake effect snow warning for Porter and LaPorte counties at 6:45 a.m., which is set to expire at 6 p.m. A lake effect snow warning means significant amounts of lake effect snow will make travel very hazardous or impossible. Lake effect snow showers typically align themselves in bands and will likely be intense enough to drop 1 to several inches of snow per hour for several hours.

Visibilities vary greatly and can drop to zero within minutes.

The National Weather Service "strongly discouraged" travel and warned that commerce could be "severely impacted." For those who must travel, keeping an extra flashlight, food and water in the vehicle in case of emergency is advised.

Cook and Will counties in Illinois are under a wind chill advisory until noon. Single-digit temperatures and winds of up to 20 mph are expected to produce wind chills as low as 15 to 20 below zero in the morning with actual temperatures expected to reach only 10 above.

-- Times Staff Writers Heather Austgen and Lauri Harvey Keagle contributed to this report.

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