By Heartland News
NEAR ESSEX, MO (KFVS) - The investigation continued Monday night into a multi-vehicle crash in Stoddard County near Essex that sent a number of people to several local hospitals.
The crash happened around noon Monday on U.S. 60 in the eastbound lanes.
According to the crash report from the Missouri Highway Patrol there were a total of 18 vehicles involved.
The highway patrol now says 33 people were involved in the crash. Out of those 33 people 26 were injured, 4 of them seriously. Of the injured their ages were from 3 to 61-years-old.
Seriously injured were:
Jaclyn King (18), Poplar Bluff
Melissa Reeser, St. Louis
Jackie Chamness (51), Creal Springs
Lana Chamness (61), Creal Springs
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, a farmer was burning trash near some equipment and accidentally caught a field on fire.
Troopers said the smoke from that fire was so thick, two or three cars crashed into one another.
"It was just pure smoke," said Gary Vannoy of Charleston. "You couldn't see the road. You couldn't see anything. I mean it was thick."
Then, a semi truck crashed into the back of that crash and eventually 18 vehicles were involved in the pileup.
At least two people were air lifted to Cape Girardeau and Memphis hospitals. Several others were taken by ambulance for their injuries.
"Some people been throwed out on the ground," said Bob Carroll, who was driving from Sikeston and was one of the first on the scene. Carroll is a volunteer firefighter for Bernie and says he'd never seen a crash like this one.
"We didn't see it happen," Carroll said. "We seen when we got up there and they had the road burns and everything. Another couple sitting in the car, they were able to talk. I found on little girl over there. She couldn't respond. She was hurt pretty good. I'm praying that she's ok."
"A car behind us sideswiped us and then from there they kept crashing into the back of us," said Kristen Blackstock of Springfield. "We got out and we started running to get out of the smoke to get out of the way and then a semi came through and plowed through all of the cars."
"A few of them didn't look very good, pretty bad," said Vannoy, who was involved the crash. "A lot of people were hurt. They were laying all over."
Investigators believe the crash could have been worse had a second semi not been able to stop.
"He (truck driver) did an excellent job of controlling his truck, maintained it in his lane," said Sgt. Dale Moreland with the Missouri Highway Patrol. "Several feet of skid marks, but he stopped before he got to them."
Moreland reminds drivers to pay attention and don't follow too closely.