Could I-94 pileup have been prevented?

(Provided Photo / WSBT-TV / Amy Koza)
(Provided Photo / WSBT-TV / Amy Koza)

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (WISH) – Three people are dead and 21 others are injured following Thursday’s massive pileup on I-94 near Michigan City. In the wake of the tragedy, state police had to answer the question: Could it have been prevented?

Thursday there was terror on an Indiana interstate.

“The collision as just like, boom, louder than a gunshot. I mean you heard it and it — this was crazy,” said one driver.

Involved were 18 semis, two box trucks and at least 25 other vehicles.

“You have a snow squall that creates white out conditions. It goes from poor visibility to zero visibility and then how people react to those circumstances. It’s the circumstances that create the crash,” said Dave Bursten with Indiana State Police.

The day after, Indiana State Police said it was human irresponsibility that caused the pile up, drivers not taking warnings seriously and when a snow squall overtook I-94 in Laporte County, they say drivers didn’t know how to react.

“It’s those irresponsible drivers that create the circumstance for the crash that leads to the kind of event we saw yesterday,” said Bursten.

But there’s no denying the near white out conditions made driving, even seeing, near impossible. And complaints of icy roads and crashes on I-94 had been reported earlier that day. So should ISP have shut down the highway long before the pileup happened?

Even INDOT said, “no”.

“The conditions were such that they were slick but that’s not uncommon for any kind of a snow event.  So at that point there wasn’t talk of closing that road down,” Matt Deitchley with INDOT.

“We don’t have a crystal ball. We can’t predict when snow squalls are going to occur. We can’t predict how people are going to drive and how they’re going to react,” said Bursten.

Interstate 94 is back open after nearly 24 hours of cleanup.

The three people who died were a couple from Grand Rapids, Michigan and a man from Chicago.

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