MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) — Slick roads and quickly moving fog led to a pileup involving a logging truck and more than 40 other vehicles Thursday on a busy highway near Boise, injuring at least 10 people during the morning commute.
Authorities said the crash happened as emergency responders tried to clear a previous wreck on Interstate 84, one of the state's main east-west highways.
"Within a three- or four-minute timeframe, the fog rolled in," Idaho State Police Captain Bill Gardiner said. "Witnesses say you could see 30 to 40 feet in front of you — that's all."
Idaho State Police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said a motorist in a black Subaru tried to move to the right lane and away from the previous crash but clipped a silver Subaru. A logging truck then hit the black car, causing a chain-reaction crash in the interstate's westbound lanes that included four other tractor trailers.
Baker said 10 people were transported by ambulance to area hospitals, including the driver of the black Subaru. The man was seriously hurt and had to be extricated from his vehicle, which was crushed to the point where there was little room left for him inside it.
"There was just a little compartment in there, and he was in there," Baker said. "It took them about an hour to get him out."
The man's injuries, including a leg injury, were not considered life-threatening, she said.
Authorities reopened the interstate at about 2 p.m. Baker said police were still investigating, and no citations had been issued so far.
Sleeting rain early Thursday resulted in a number of crashes in and around Boise, the state's most populous city. One of them occurred at about 6:30 a.m. on I-84.
Baker said an incident-response vehicle from the Idaho Transportation Department was parked on the far left side of the road waiting for a tow truck to remove a vehicle from that crash site when the chain-reaction pileup started.
"There was crash upon crash upon crash," Baker said. "It's a significant event. I'm sure there are many people out here who have never seen that many at once."
Baker said a separate crash occurred just ahead of those collisions due to what Idaho State Police surmise was a driver becoming distracted seeing the pileup taking place behind him.
"If you saw that in your rear view mirror, it would be a little dramatic," Baker said.
The secondary crash involved three to five vehicles, she said, and extended the length of the accident scene to about a mile of the interstate. In all, police say 41 vehicles and five tractor trailers, including the logging truck, were involved.
Authorities said the fog moved in quickly and likely caught drivers unaware.
"It's a perfect storm," Gardiner said. "First off, you have icy roads, and then you have the weather change in an instant like that. Then you have people driving too fast for the conditions of the road, sprinkled with a little bit of inattention."
Associated Press writer Keith Ridler in Boise contributed to this report.