I-94 crash cleanup took more than 5 hours

I-94 crash cleanup took more than 5 hours.

The cleanup effort related to Friday afternoon's chaotic pileup that closed a section of I-94 eastbound near Galesburg took several hours.

State Police say the pileup started when a semi driver pulled off the side of the highway during a white-out and was hit by another semi.

The highway has since re-opened and emergency crews are finally getting a chance to catch their breath after a hectic day. When all was said and done more than 50 vehicles were snarled in the mess left behind, but amazingly no one was seriously hurt.

"it is in an inconvenience, but i'll have to deal with it," Janice Smith said.

Smith was headed back to her home in Chelsea, Michigan, when she rear-ended a pick-up truck and ended up in the middle of a pileup that involved dozens of vehicles.

"I'm waiting, but I'll call my insurance company to see if they can get me a car, so I can go and find a motel," Smith said.

Smith and some of the other drivers involved spent the afternoon waiting in the lobby of MacDonalds Towing, as tow truck drivers worked to pluck their vehicles from the mess on I-94, which involved more than 50 cars and semis over a several mile stretch.

"We had a few people we housed in-house here until they can get a hold of a friend or family member to come get them, and others we've taken to a safe haven's like a McDonald's or Denny's or something like that," Terry Kizer, towing operations manager at McDonalds Towing, said.

Nearly two dozen tow truck drivers worked through the day to clean up the accident scene. Kizer said his towing company used three "rotators" to help pull out the 16 semi-trucks that were involved.

"We had to roll over a couple of semis, back on to their semis, pick up them out of their ditch and get them going," Kizer said.

It was already a busy day for Kizer.

"We're probably going to push in the neighborhood of about 200 calls today," Kizer said.

While dozens of vehicles crashed in the area, between exit 80 and 85, several others came to rest off the highway.

Robert Roe, a semi-truck driver headed from Elkhart, Indiana, nearly avoided a collision by ending up in a ditch.

"When I saw I was going to hit him, unfortunately the ditch was the only alternative," Roe said.

MSP Lieutenant Dale Hinz says drivers could be cited for driving too fast for conditions once the crash investigation is complete.

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