All lanes reopen on Interstate 94 in Michigan after pileup

AP News
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Posted: Jan 11, 2015 12:09 PM
All lanes reopen on Interstate 94 in Michigan after pileup

GALESBURG, Mich. (AP) — All lanes of Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan reopened early Sunday, two days after a 193-vehicle pileup on the snowy highway, authorities said.

State transportation officials reopened the eastbound lanes about 4:30 a.m., a few hours after the westbound ones.

The chain of crashes happened Friday morning in Kalamazoo County, 150 miles east of Chicago. A 57-year-old trucker from Quebec was killed and about two dozen people were taken to hospitals. A truck carrying fireworks caught fire, triggering an explosion; that driver wasn't hurt.

Efforts to reopen the highway stalled Saturday as crews tried to remove acid from a tanker truck.

State police Lt. Dale Hinz said towing so many vehicles was "brutal," with temperatures barely above zero.

Travis Harpster is a dispatcher at McDonald's Towing & Rescue Inc. in Kalamazoo, where most of the vehicles were towed. He asked for patience from those affected.

"At this point we are still entering everyone into the system," he told MLive.com Sunday morning. "And as of right now we hope to start releasing cars around noonish."

There is minor pitting from the vehicle fires in parts of the eastbound lanes, creating a rough surface. State transportation officials are posting signs to warn oncoming vehicles.

Ryan Bovee's car was struck by a van, although he was allowed to drive away a few hours after the pileup happened.

"You just kept hearing the crunches of the vehicles hitting," the 35-year-old said. "It was unreal."

Officials say they will hold a meeting to look at the coordinated response by local, state and private groups.