Six people were killed in an accident that involved more than 100 vehicles on a Texas interstate on Thursday morning, the authorities said, as a slurry of winter weather made for slick roads, patches of ice and dangerous driving conditions.
Multiple people were also trapped in their vehicles by the crashes, which took place just after 6 a.m. along Interstate 35W in Fort Worth and included cars and eighteen-wheeler trucks, according to the Fort Worth Fire Department. Videos broadcast by local TV stations showed cars piled on top of one another, tractor-trailers rolled onto their sides and other vehicles spun out along the roadway as firefighters worked the scene, reports The New York Times.
Thirty-six people were taken to hospitals, including three who were in critical condition at the scene, said Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for MedStar Mobile Healthcare, an emergency services agency working with the Fort Worth Police and Fire Departments.
Sixty-five others have sought medical care from area hospitals throughout the day, and the numbers were expected to increase, officials said. Among those injured were four officers, who were treated at area hospitals and released.
The fire department said in a statement that more than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident. At a news conference, Officer Daniel Segura of the Fort Worth Police said that the scene of the “massive accident pileup” extended about a mile.
A spokesman for the Fire Department said that crews had to use tow trucks to disentangle the cars, and that they were going vehicle by vehicle to make sure that drivers and passengers had been extricated from the wrecks. One photo from the department showed vehicles pinned under a FedEx truck, and another showed firefighters pulling a small dog from the wreckage to safety.
Mr. Zavadsky of MedStar said: “I have not seen anything like this. We train for this kind of scenario, but you never really expect it to happen.” All northbound lanes of the interstate were closed because of “a major accident due to weather,” the Police Department said, and the highway was backed up in both directions for long distances.
“Seek alternate route,” the department urged travelers in a tweet.
The police also set up a site for families to pick up and meet drivers and passengers who were involved in the pileup.
Neil Noakes, chief of the Fort Worth Police Department, said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon that ice was a factor in the crashes, which remains under investigation.
Wintry weather conditions that left roads slick and icy, contributing to the accidents. Temperatures were in the upper 20s on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service, which had issued a winter weather advisory through noon for the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
A cluster of storms was expected to produce moderate or heavy freezing rain and sleet with accumulations of up to a quarter-inch, the Weather Service said.
“Expect dangerous travel conditions,” the service said, warning that the ice was in patches and difficult to see.
“We can’t stress enough that road conditions could go from good to dangerous within blocks,” the service said.
The nearby Arlington Police Department reported that it had responded to at least 23 crashes and that officers were helping five drivers whose cars were disabled or had spun out.
Chief Al Jones of the Arlington Police Department said that a driver struck an officer’s patrol car after midnight on Thursday because of icy conditions. The officer, who was not injured, was not in the vehicle at the time. In all, the department had responded to at least 82 crashes since Wednesday night, he said.