A deadly pileup of more than 40 vehicles on Interstate 10 West outside New Orleans Thursday included about half a dozen tractor trailers. 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 and smashed up against a number of commercial trucks.
Two men died and 61 others were injured in the crash. Seven of the injured were listed in critical condition. The fatalities included two Louisiana men who were traveling in separate pickup trucks. A firefighter whose face was cut while responding to the crash was counted as a 62nd injury.
One commercial truck driver and crash survivor told the Times-Picayune that he was driving along I-10 when suddenly the smoke from a fire, combined with the early morning fog, made visibility “really dark and foggy to where you could not see if you put your hand in front of you.”
He slowed down and came upon a car in the middle lane, which he swerved around. As he was moving back to the center lane, a truck came from the right lane and crossed into the path of his truck. He hit the truck and then went off the road into a grassy area where he brought his truck to a stop. The man heard loud crash sounds all around him, which prompted him to “take a chance and run,” nearly getting hit by a car from behind.
Other drivers involved in the crash also reported being caught suddenly in thick smoke or fog. “I thought it was fog; my husband thought it was smoke,” a woman told WWL-TV. “Cars were driving in front of us and before you know it, it seemed as if they had dropped off the earth.”
The pileup occurred three-quarters of a mile before the exit 246 A&B and the I-510 interchange. Lanes in both directions were closed for much of the day Thursday, but reopened in time for rush hour.