According to state law enforcement, at least 158 vehicles were involved in a series of incidents along Interstate 55 in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, on Monday that resulted in at least seven fatalities.
According to a news release issued by Louisiana State Police in the evening, over 25 individuals were sent to hospitals with injuries varying from minor to critical. Also, a lot of victims, according to investigators, sought medical attention on their own.
Before the pileups, meteorologists had predicted that the region, which is directly west of New Orleans, had been severely affected by “super fog.” According to the National Weather Service, super fog is a dense fog that forms in moist, smoky situations and can cause visibility to drop to less than 10 feet.
Following the first collision, some of the cars took fire, according to the officials. Police stated that a tanker truck transporting “hazardous liquid” was one of the cars involved in the collisions, but they did not specify what kind of liquid.
A “compromised tank/trailer” was the reason why police were working to transfer the truck on Monday night.
First responders will be in a better position to evaluate the nearby automobiles after the tanker is gone. The state police said that there was a chance they could find more fatalities.
If you have any information about a family member who went missing while passing through the area on Monday morning, please get in touch with the authorities.
Governor of Louisiana
Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards expressed his prayers for the victims of the crashes who lost their lives.
Edwards stated on X, formerly known as Twitter, that I am urging all Louisianans in the affected regions to take extreme care while traveling because the mixture of wildfire smoke and dense fog is deadly.
The governor continued, I also want to thank the first rescuers and medical staff who have been working tirelessly to save lives and render aid. Aside from driving carefully, the best thing you can do to support them is to donate blood at your neighborhood blood bank. It will assist in restocking resources that are being used today to tend to the injured.
Prior to this, three 18-wheel trucks crashed in the northbound lanes and became completely engulfed in flames, according to St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre, who spoke with news affiliate WVUE. There were two confirmed multi-car pileups in the southbound lanes, one of which was igniting.
Tregre stated that the region was wholly gridlocked as a result of the crashes, so every emergency worker had to be on foot. He went on, The predicament is very terrible.”
At a neighboring weather station, visibility was less than a quarter mile from just after 4 a.m. CDT to just before 10 a.m. CDT. There were probably moments during the morning when visibility was almost nonexistent due to the thickest fog.
The extremely thick fog, dubbed “super fog,” resulted from the fog interacting with smoke from neighboring fires.
Since the summer, Louisiana has faced unheard-of wildfires, intense heat waves, and an unending drought. Sixty-two percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought, the highest rating recorded by the US Drought Monitor.
In a statement released on Monday, the city of New Orleans stated that it is monitoring an underground fire that is now raging in forested wetlands that are located between the Michoud Canal and the Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge.
According to the city, the intense heat of the summer and the absence of rain caused wetlands to dry up and the depth of the water table to decrease. It further stated that the fire under observation has been raging both above and below the surface.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans stated on Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “winds should be much stronger,” making a recurrence of Monday’s extreme fog unlikely for Tuesday morning. Dense fog can only arise in conditions of calm or very weak winds.
The Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, stated that he and his spouse are in prayer for the injured and deceased from the collision.
— Gov. John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) October 23, 2023
Please join Donna and me in praying for the families of the people who were killed and injured in today’s horrific I-55 incident. Governor Edwards said I want to encourage all Louisianans in regions impacted to take great care when traveling because the mix of wildfire smoke and dense fog is dangerous.