A deadly pileup of more than 40 vehicles on Interstate 10 West outside New Orleans Thursday killed two Louisiana men and injured 62 others, many of them critically. Pictures and raw video of the pre-dawn pileup show the mangled wreckage of several cars and pickup trucks scattered across all lanes of the interstate about three-quarters of a mile before the exit 246 A&B and the I-510 interchange.
Several motorists who were involved in the crash said that either smoke from a marsh fire, fog, or both abruptly reduced visibility, making driving conditions hazardous. One survivor of the crash told the Times-Picayune that he was traveling west on I-10 when suddenly the interstate became “really dark and foggy to where you could not see if you put your hand in front of you.”
Another told WWL-TV, “I thought it was fog; my husband thought it was smoke. Cars were driving in front of us and before you know it, it seemed as if they had dropped off the earth.”
A New Orleans resident who lives near the crash site told WWL-TV that the smoke from a marsh fire that has been smoldering since August combined with a number of broken street lights made for poor visibility for drivers in the eastern part of the city.
“They really need to get some lights back here,” the resident told WWL-TV. “Once you come off 510, once you get past Jazzland there is no lights. If you come up Lake Forest Boulevard, no lights. Nothing, and that is bad,” he said.
Reporters from WWL-TV backed the claim, saying they found poor lighting on the stretch of I-10 where the crash occurred, continuing for nearly two miles, and noted the city is responsible for fixing broken lights, according to state law.
A New Orleans City Council member said he drives the same stretch of I-10 regularly and knows there are a number of lights that are out. “I’ve gotten complaints about it,” he told WWL-TV.
John Adams, president of the Oak Island Subdivision, told WWL-TV that the improperly lit interstate and the smoke from the marsh fire have troubled his community for a long time.
“We’re paying taxes — high taxes — and nothing is being done for us out here, nothing,” Mr. Adams told WWL-TV. “It was just a matter of time, just a matter of time, and if they don’t fix it, it’s going to happen again,” said Adams.