Aerial Footage Shows Aftermath of 81-Vehicle Pileup
A sudden afternoon snow squall caused an 81-vehicle pileup on Interstate 71 about 40 miles northeast of Columbus, Ohio, on March 13.
The State Highway Patrol said 11 commercial vehicles were involved, including several semi-trailers, with one ending up on its side, ABC6 reported.
Traffic was heavy in I-71 at around 4 p.m. when a sudden flurry created white-out conditions.
“When we were coming south just patches of boom! Just crazy white snow and you can’t see 20 feet in front of you and I can totally see that’s what happened,” Mike Smith, who was heading to Dayton, told ABC6.
Multiple drivers and passengers reported minor injuries, ABC6 reported, but no one was seriously hurt.
A woman and her granddaughter who were caught in the middle of the wreck were miraculously unhurt. Their car remained untouched as chaos unfolded all around them.
Both were too upset to speak to the media, but the woman’s husband, Dennis Cowles, told NBC4i how thankful he was that the wreckage didn’t include his wife’s car.
“We could have lost everyone, two major people in our lives right then and there,” he said. “That’s the only thing I can say is give thanks to God.”
Helicopter footage of the crash site can be viewed above and shows a semi-trailer jack-knifed across the highway, while the cab of another lays on its side nearby.
The resulting traffic jam blocked the entire northbound side of I-71 for several hours.
Some motorists, tired of waiting, turned around and drove back down the highway to the exit they had just passed.
“People were driving backwards on the expressway toward us to get out. It was crazy,” Wendy Denton told ABDC6. “I’ve never seen that happen in my life.”
It took five hours for police and Ohio Department of Transportation workers to clear one lane of the three-lane highway. It was another hour before traffic was flowing in all three lanes.