Crash shuts down Texas highway; 2 die, dozens injured
Authorities say as many as 50 vehicles involved
Two people died and dozens were hurt Thursday when as many as 150 vehicles collided in Southeast Texas in a two-mile pileup that left trucks twisted on top of each other and authorities rushing to pull survivors from the miles of wreckage, according to KPRC-TV.
The collision occurred in extremely foggy conditions at about 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Day on Interstate 10 southwest of Beaumont, a Gulf Coast city about 80 miles east of Houston.
A man and a woman from Pearland were killed in a Chevy Suburban SUV crushed by a tractor trailer, the Texas Department of Public Safety told KFDM-TV.
Officials at Acadian Ambulance service said at least 51 people have been taken to area hospitals and at least eight are critically hurt.
It wasn't immediately clear how the pileup began, but Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Rod Carroll told The Associated Press the fog was so thick that deputies didn't immediately realize they were dealing with multiple accidents.
"It is catastrophic," Carroll said. "I've got cars on top of cars."
Tamika Francois and her family, on their way to New Orleans, were rear-ended.
"We just heard car after car -- boom, boom, boom, boom, boom," Francois said.
She quickly got her family out of the car shortly before it was hit again.
"When they got out of the car, all we saw was that truck pushing our car from way back there all the way up here," she said.
The truck landed on top of an SUV, killing the couple inside.
"I'm thankful for life, for God sparing us and letting us be alive," Francois said.
A little further up the line, Katie Segmoyer and her husband and two children pulled over after the cars ahead of them stopped in the road.
They could hear cars hitting each other in the fog. Segmoyer, who's a nurse, ran back to see if she could help a family behind them, but the cars kept piling up.
"I tried to get the little boy out of the car and people started hitting us again, and I realized it wasn't over. So, I jumped in the car, sat on the little boy's lap and then we all just braced each other until we knew it was done," she said.
The dense fog made it nearly impossible for drivers to see through their windshields.
"When I came up on it, everyone was kind of piled up," driver Brenda Craven said.
Before she realized what was happening, an 18-wheeler slammed into the back of Craven's car.
"It was horrible, horrible, because people were out here hollering, 'Stop, get out of the way.' Everything was flying. It was horrible," she said.
I-10's eastbound lanes were expected to remain closed for most of Thursday.
Uninjured drivers tried to help as authorities sorted through the wreckage.
"It's just people helping people," Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Rod Carroll said. "The foremost thing in this holiday season is how other travelers were helping us when we were overwhelmed, sitting and holding, putting pressure on people that were injured."
Investigators said several drivers will likely face charges of failure to control speed.
"Once we get it all sorted out, we will file charges on any stuff we can prove in court," said Sgt. C.M. Havard with the Department of Public Safety.
Interstate 10 was shut down in both directions for hours. The westbound lanes reopened at 12:30 p.m. The eastbound lanes reopened at 5 p.m.
Several big rigs lost their loads on the highway. Officials said it will take hours to clean up.
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