Deadly Michigan freeway pileups, one involving 123 vehicles, another involving 50 left three people dead and dozens injured.
Fireworks explosions, fuel spills, and burning wreckage were results of the fatal pileups.
More photos from the 90-car pileup on I-94 in west Michigan. (Credit: WXMI) pic.twitter.com/YUJziK0Cvs
— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) January 9, 2015
Powdery snow turned ice-covered roads into perilous channels of smashed cars and twisted tractor-trailers as drivers struggled to see through the whiteout across southern Michigan Friday.
The heavy winter squalls grounded a rescue helicopter, and even firefighters struggled to get to the victims.
“It was slipping and sliding everywhere — walking or driving,” said Capt. Greg Payeur with Pittsfield Township Fire, adding that damage ranged from minor to catastrophic as they crept along ice-slicked U.S.-23 toward two jackknifed tractor-trailers, Detroit Free Press reported.
The fire department was called to the scene shortly after 1 p.m. to assist with several other agencies dealing with a 50-vehicle pileup south of Ann Arbor near Milan.
One person was killed in that wreck and at least two were injured, according to Huron Valley Ambulance.
100 miles west, an even greater accident had unfolded a few hours prior on I-94, when 123 vehicles were smashed in a pileup under similar wintry conditions.
Michigan State Police confirmed one fatality in the I-94 crash about halfway between Battle Creek and Galesburg; 23 people were injured from that pileup.
In Flint, on a stretch of I-75 near Saginaw, icy highways killed a third in Birch Run Township.
In the I-94 pileup west of exit 92, vehicles could be seen burning, including a truck that carried 44,000 pounds of hazardous materials and another carrying fireworks. Shortly before noon, those fireworks set off, causing an elaborate display of explosions through the dark smoke.
Victims were taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, where one was in critical condition, hospital spokesperson Carolyn Wyllie said. Other patients were treated at Bronson Battle Creek with minor injuries.
Michigan bloods is asking for donations as crash victims arrive at partner hospitals.