Indiana Highway Accident Leaves 3 Dead, Dozens Injured

A massive mangle of metal and ice was still being sifted and cleared more than 24 hours after a major wreck on I-94 in Indiana, near Michigan City.
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Ice, snow and white-out conditions are believed to have played a role in the fatal crash, which reportedly claimed three lives and resulted in dozens more injuries. Authorities reported at least one person was believed to have been trapped in a vehicle for hours before rescue workers could bring aide.

Our personal injury lawyers note two of the injured – two men, ages 79 and 48 – were listed by hospital officials in critical condition. Those killed included a Michigan couple in their late 60s.

Of the estimated nearly 50 vehicles involved in the crash, many of them were tractor-trailers, judging by photographs shot at the scene, which spanned the stretch of about a mile along the interstate. Workers had to bring in cranes to clear the scene. Officials estimate there were at least 18 semi-trucks in the pile-up.

As to the exact cause, authorities are still in the initial stages of the investigation. However, a cursory review of the evidence indicates that winter weather was a big factor. A heavy swath of lake-effect snow blanketed the region just prior to the crash. Snow was falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches hourly, and visibility was slashed to a quarter mile or less.

The roads had been salted and plowed less than 25 minutes prior to the crash. But the whiteout reportedly came on fast. There wasn’t enough time to give the green light to shut down the road when the crash occurred. Witnesses reported suddenly only being able to see a car length or two in front of them.

Some indicate that one of the semis began to slide and jackknifed, colliding with another semi truck and setting off the tragic chain of events.

While no one has control over the weather, drivers can certainly control how they react to it.

There is ample evidence to suggest that drivers, particularly those who have grown up in the northern regions, are overly-confident when it comes to their snow-weather driving skills. As this case shows, even those who drive for a living can’t be assured that they will always react appropriately in each situation.

It’s important that all drivers bear in mind that they are not invincible, and safe winter driving begins with the recognition that failure to use the correct degree of caution has the potential to turn fatal.

Weather information site Accuweather.com recently published a helpful list of tips for safely traversing the treacherous winter terrain. Those include:

  • Make sure you have winter tires. Just like you wouldn’t wear flip-flops in the snow, you shouldn’t trust all-season tires for winter weather driving. Unlike other kinds of tires, which tend to get hard when the air gets cold, winter tires remain pliable in even the coldest conditions.They also stick well to pavement, giving drivers more grip and therefore more control.
  • Don’t assume your all-wheel drive makes you invincible in the snow. What all-wheel drive does is split the grip on the road between four tires instead of two. This allows for a greater margin of error, and it’s certainly a benefit on snowy roads. However, the problem is that it tends to give people a false sense of confidence. The vehicle is not going to stop or corner any better than it would otherwise. With regard to stopping and turning, all vehicles in decent working conditions can pretty much be expected to perform the same.
  • Before you head out, make sure the top of your car, your windshield and all of your windows are clear of snow and ice.
  • Maintain a sharp awareness of your surroundings and of road conditions at all times.
  • Take your time braking and accelerating. If you can help it, don’t slam your brakes.
  • Understand that many people get nervous about driving in wintry conditions, so be courteous of other drivers. keep your distance and take your time when passing.

Indiana Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove handles car accident claims throughout northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call toll-free at 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
Massive pileup on Indiana highway kills 3, injures 22, Jan. 24, 2014, Staff Report, NBC News
More Blog Entries:
Northwest and Central Indiana Interstates Dotted By Truck and Automobile Crashes This Winter, Jan. 24, 2014, Munster Car Accident Lawyer Blog