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'Super fog' vehicle pileup claims lives of at least 7 in Louisiana and sparks 158-vehicle pile-up
24 October 2023, 11:17 | Updated: 24 October 2023, 15:08
Seven people were killed, and at least 25 were injured, after a 'super fog' caused a 158-vehicle pile-up on a Louisiana highway.
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A ‘super fog’ of combined smoke and water vapour caused a multi-car pile-up on a Louisiana highway which claimed the lives of at least 7 people and injured 25.
The incident took place on the I-55 to the west of New Orleans and involved 158 vehicles.
The fog created severely low visibility in some sections of the highway, which led to a domino effect of multiple crashes which affected both northbound and southbound lanes.
Authorities believe that more fatalities could be confirmed as clean-up efforts continue. Emergency crews are working to clear scorched debris from the lanes.
St John the Baptist Sherrif Mike Tregre told WVUE that around three 18-wheel trucks were completely engulfed in flames after they collided with each other.
Mr Tregre said all the first emergency responded reached the incident on foot because the crashes had left the highway “completely gridlocked.”
Local police confirm that a long stretch of the interstate will be closed “for the foreseeable future.” They say state troopers are in the process of informing families of the victims and will investigate the exact cause of the pileup.
Christopher Coll survived the incident. He told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate: “I was already on the brakes, slowing down when an F-250 drove up on top of my work trailer and took me for a ride.”
Mr Coll was able to kick open his car door to escape and managed to save another person by pulling them through a car window.
Another survivor of the crash, Clarencia Patterson Reed told the Times-Picayune/the New Orleans Advocate she slowed down after she saw people waving their hands for her to stop. She did but her car was hit from behind and on the side by other vehicles.
She said: ““It was: ‘Boom. Boom.’ All you kept hearing was crashing for at least 30 minutes” She was travelling with her wife and niece and he wife sustained injuries to her leg and side.
The interstate passes over swamp and open water between lakes in southeastern Louisiana.
State police told journalists at the scene that one vehicle travelled over guardrail into the water below. The driver survived and was unharmed.
The dense 'super fog' mornings are expected to continue as Louisiana tackles extreme drought and a heightened wildfire risk.
In a statement, Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards said: “The combination of wildfire smoke and dense fog is dangerous, and I want to encourage all Louisianans in affected areas to take extreme caution when travelling.”
The United States National Weather Service attributed the ‘super fog’ to the combination of condensed water vapour, smoke, and moisture from marsh fires.
It says visibility may have been less than 10 feet at the time of the pileup.
The majority of the state of Louisiana has been classified as suffering from ‘extreme drought’ according to the U.S Drought Monitor.
U.S. government recommendations for Louisiana drivers include driving with low beams on and expecting slower commute times.