PLAINFIELD – A pileup involving more than 30 vehicles on snowy Interstate 70 west of Indianapolis left at least 10 people injured Thursday, including at least one critically, and shut down the busy highway for most of the evening, authorities said.
Most of the injuries in the afternoon pileup along I-70 were minor, but one victim’s condition was very critical, Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers said.
Tractor-trailer rigs sat smashed side-by-side against one another along the stretch about 20 miles west of Indianapolis, with cars and other smaller vehicles pushed to the sides of the road. About 20 big rigs and 15 passenger vehicles were involved in the pileup, Indiana State Police Capt. Dave Bursten said.
Several motorists blinded by a snow squall crashed into stalled traffic on the slick road, police said.
We believe weather was a factor, Bursten said. Snow was falling at the time of the crash and whiteout conditions were possible, along with slick roads, according to the National Weather Service.
The main crash happened at the interstate’s 65-mile marker, but there was a second crash involving at least two jackknifed truck rigs nearby, Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Debbie Calder said.
Bursten said the epicenter of the crash was directly below an overpass.
Hours after the pileup, mangled metal and ripped tires remained along the highway’s shoulder even after most of the wreckage had been removed.
Three elephants had to be off-loaded from a vehicle involved in the pileup until the vehicle was righted on the highway, then reloaded for the resumption of their journey, Bursten said. He had no other details on the pachyderms.
Eastbound lanes reopened at 7:30 p.m. The westbound lanes were expected to remain closed late Thursday. State police said eastbound traffic at one point was backed up at least five miles.