Accidents involving nine vehicles tie up I-55

Thursday, December 13, 2001

A woman was hospitalized after nine vehicles were involved in four accidents within moments of each other on Interstate 55 Wednesday night.

Northbound lanes from Route K to U.S. 61 were closed for about an hour, and traffic backed up for miles.

Spilled fuel and a wet road were major contributors to the wrecks, which occurred about 6 p.m. near mile marker 99, said Cape Girardeau police.

Emergency workers had to walk carefully to avoid falling on the slippery pavement.

Police were still investigating the wrecks late Wednesday, but preliminary reports indicate a northbound tractor-trailer truck spilled diesel fuel. The truck wasn't involved in the accidents and remains unidentified.

Initial accounts differ as to what happened next.

One version is that a driver lost control of her sedan when it skidded, hit a guardrail, flipped end over end and landed below a steep embankment east of the highway. She was alone in the car.

Drivers slowing to help also skidded and ended up being involved in separate wrecks that included two cars, then a three-car pileup and finally a tractor-trailer truck rear-ending a vehicle.

Another version is that the woman whose car flipped was trying to avoid an accident in front of her when she hit the guardrail.

The woman, whose name was unavailable, was taken by ambulance to Southeast Missouri Hospital. No other injuries were reported.

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