A thick fog over a busy highway in Jefferson County 80 miles east of Houston, Texas caused a disastrous sequence of vehicle accidents on Thanksgiving morning, November 22. Once the fog cleared, authorities at the site saw that more than 150 vehicles were involved, tangled into a metal heap blocking both lanes of the interstate.
The accident occurred around 8 a.m. along Interstate 10, a highway that stretches from Florida through Texas to California. Authorities say that drivers had very little visibility in the fog, less than a foot in some cases. The thick fog blinded drivers, causing one after another to crash into the vehicle in front and on either side, causing a chain reaction. More than 150 vehicles were caught in the heap, including several 18-wheeler semi-trucks and at least one oil tanker.
â€śEven as the deputies were pulling up we still had a continuous chain of accidents, â€ś said Rod Carroll, deputy of the Jefferson County Sheriffâ€™s Department. â€śWe have 18-wheelers on top of cars, we have cars on top of cars. Itâ€™s just catastrophic.â€ť
A man and a woman traveling in a Chevy Suburban were crushed by a tractor trailer and killed in the accident, and at least 80 more were listed as injured. Approximately 10-12 passengers were in critical condition when taken to nearby hospitals in Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Baytown, Texas.
The Texas Department of Safety was forced to close the highway for several hours following the chain of accidents to rescue people from the vehicles and move cars off the highway. The westbound lanes were reopened at 12:38 p.m. Due to the excessive amount of wreckage, the eastbound lane remained closed for 7-8 hours following the initial accident.
Despite the tragedy, many of the accident victims tried to make the best of the situation by serving one another. One child used the roasted turkey dinner his mother and father were transporting in their vehicle to celebrate Thanksgiving with family to make sandwiches for the survivors on the side of the road while they waited. Drivers who avoided injury jumped in to help the authorities dig through the wreckage, help people out of mangled cars, and move the metal heaps off the road.
â€śIts just people helping people,â€ť Deputy Carroll said. â€śThe 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.â€ť
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