A whiteout caused by a heavy band of lake-effect snow that dropped close to 2 inches per hour is being blamed for a fatal eastbound accident on the I-94 near W 400 N (approximately three miles east of the Michigan City exit) yesterday afternoon around 3 pm.
Police say 46 vehicles, including 19 semi-trucks, were involved in the crash. According to authorities, 22-people were injured and several killed, including Jerry Dalrymple, 65, of Chicago, Il and his golden retriever, and husband and wife Thomas Wolma, 67 and Marilyn Wolma, 65, of Grand Grapids, MI. According to LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan, all three died of blunt force trauma when semis hit their vehicles.
The horrific accident closed the eastbound lanes of the I-94 for 14 miles as Indiana state police investigated the scene while cranes and wreckers worked diligently to clear the vehicles off the road. The last semi was removed early this morning. The LaPorte County HAZMAT team was also called in to clean up fluorescent green diesel fuel from ruptured semi tanks, which added to the peril at the scene.
According to eyewitness Scott Collins, 17, of Chesterton, IN, who was a passenger in a car with three other teens,"One of the semis started sliding and I think it jackknifed in the middle of the road" and collided with another semi. After that happened, multiple semis locked up. We were pretty nervous."
Police say it may take several weeks before they can determine the actual chain of events.