Authorities say two children and one adult were killed and numerous others were injured in a massive freeway crash in Detroit involving at least two dozen vehicles in icy, snowy conditions.
The Detroit News reported that the deaths and injuries happened in a chain-reaction crash around 9 a.m. Thursday on a mile-long stretch of Interstate 75 southbound on the southwest side of the city from Springwells to Schaefer Highway.
Michigan State Police Mike Shaw confirmed three deaths and as many as 20 people hurt with 12 of those hospitalized.
Shaw says many people had to be pulled out of vehicles with injuries ranging from back sprains to broken limbs.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office was removing the bodies of one child and one adult from the scene Thursday afternoon. A second child reportedly died at the hospital, police said.
Motorists in the area at the time of the crash described sudden "whiteout conditions" with a passing snow squall that caused drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
Initially, emergency crews were very concerned about potential fuel and chemical spills in the massive crash and determined it to be a HAZMAT level three, which is an area extremely hazardous to health. But it was later downgraded to a level one after further evaluation.
Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Rob Morosi said it will probably be early evening before the freeway would totally be reopened to traffic.
Intense lake effect snow squalls were streaming eastward off of Lake Michigan early Thursday as a arctic airmass filtered across the region behind a cold front.
Similar conditions recently resulted in a series of vehicle pile-ups in Ohio last week, leaving one person dead and dozens injured.