Fiery crash on Wisconsin road kills at least 10
Saturday, October 12, 2002
CEDAR GROVE, Wis. -- 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 for identities.
"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.
The crashes happened about 7:30 a.m. 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."