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3 dead, 30 others injured in pile-up on I-94
MICHIGAN CITY, Indiana (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - We now know the names of two of the people killed in the massive pile up in I-94 in Indiana Thursday.
We've learned that 65-year-old Marilyn Wolma and her 67-year-old husband Thomas from Grand Rapids were killed in the crash. Marilyn was a retired teacher and taught at Sibley Elementary School for more than 20 years. She was a current substitute teacher there as well.
Another West Michigan man was injured in the crash. 48-year-old Jeffrey Rennell from Ada was in critical condition at a Chicago area hospital after the crash. He was released Friday morning.
The firefighters and paramedics who arrived on scene first describe it as "devastating." They say they knew by the tone of the 9-1-1 dispatcher's voice that this would be something they had never seen before.
"It will live with us forever. It's something that you'll never forget," said Chief Nick Pawlik of the Coolspring Fire Dept.
When they arrived there were no words.
"It was such a devastating scene, you don't know where to start," said Chief Pawlik.
46 vehicles, including 18 semis, were tangled together.
"Basically what we had out there was a scene that stretched approximately a mile in length," said Chief Pawlik.
20 people were injured. They had patients that couldn't be reached, including Jeffrey Rennell from Ada. It took three hours for crews to cut him out of the wreckage before he was airlifted to a Chicago area hospital.
"There was a pocket of vehicles that this gentlemen was in and several of those vehicles had to be pulled away from that vehicle before the extrication could even begin. It was a very difficult and extensive extrication," said Adrew McGuire of Lappet County EMS.
Three people were dead, a 65-year-old from Chicago and Thomas and Marilyn Wolma from Grand Rapids.
First responders say with so many victims they didn't know where to begin.
"The thing that was tough out there, especially for a fireman is trying to prioritize who you extricate first. It's hard to leave one person and go to check on someone else," said Chief Pawlik.
Those emergency crews say with as bad as the crash was, it could have been much worse.
"It was a miracle out there," said Chief Pawlik.