Fog, ice lead to series of pileups involving 59 vehicles

Thursday, January 9, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY -- Nearly 60 vehicles crashed during the morning commute Wednesday in a string of pileups along an icy, fog-shrouded stretch of Interstate 80. At least 11 people were injured, four seriously.

The injured included two firefighters. The dense fog prevented a medical helicopter from landing to pick up victims.

"Mother Nature struck pretty hard this time," said Nile Easton, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

The Utah Highway Patrol reported 14 crashes involving 59 vehicles, three of them tractor-trailers.

Overturned tractor-trailer

At one crash site, 17 vehicles piled up and an overturned tractor-trailer tossed chairs and other household goods across the interstate.

Matt Golden, 33, said he was headed to work on his motorcycle when people on the side of the road waved him down. He had just stopped when he was hit by a minivan that shoved him under the car in front of him.

"It sounded like gunfire going off," he said. "It just exploded. It was just unbelievable. What you're thinking is, 'How can the cars just keep coming and coming? Can't they see this accident?'"

The seriously injured included a woman in her 20s who was crushed from the chest down when her car was shoved under a burning truck, authorities said.

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