5 dead, 14 injured in multi-vehicle crash on I-57 in southeast Mo.; interstate open
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - Five people died and 14 were injured in a multi-vehicle crash in southeast Missouri, according to the highway patrol.
According to Sgt. Clark Parrott with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, approximately 47 vehicles were involved in the fiery crash that started on Thursday morning, March 17.
The Missouri Department of Transportation reported I-57 reopened to traffic at 5 a.m. on Friday, March 18.
The department urged drivers to use caution while traveling in the area as traffic returns to its normal flow.
The entire interstate was closed from the Illinois-Missouri state line to Interstate 55 in Sikeston after a massive multiple-vehicle crash Thursday morning.
Law enforcement reported there were multiple deaths and vehicle fires after a crash on I-57 near Charleston.
Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker said on Friday, March 18, the death toll in the crash dropped to five.
He said the process of notifying the victims’ families continued on Friday afternoon, and all the names will be released once that process is complete.
On Thursday, he said a mobile morgue was set up at McMikle’s Funeral Home in Charleston, Mo.
According to Zach Bolden, director of the Mississippi County EMS, it was foggy when they responded. They believe someone hit the brakes and a chain reaction followed.
Bolden also confirmed multiple deaths.
He said one person was airlifted out and another helicopter was on scene standing by.
Several more people were taken to area hospitals and several were treated on scene.
According to Bolden, one or two emergency responders were also taken to area hospitals.
The crashes were at the 10 to 12 mile marker in both north and southbound lanes.
MoDOT closed I-57 in Mississippi County for at least 20 hours.
Charleston Department of Public Safety Director Robert Hearnes estimated between 30-50 vehicles were involved in the crash.
“When we got the call about 8 a.m., and as we approached the interstate, it was a very thick fog,” he said. “You couldn’t, visibility was less than 50 feet. And so the traffic had already backed up, but we had multiple, multiple accidents on both sides of the interstate.”
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, just before noon, officers and emergency responders were in the area to continue processing the scene.
Sgt. Clark Parrott with the highway patrol said they have checked with those who are on the interstate and provided them with water. He said around 1:30 p.m. they started the process of removing the non-involved vehicles off the road.
He said they do not have a total count on the number of vehicles, but the crash involved multiple tractor-trailers and passenger cars.
Sgt. Jeff Kinder with the highway patrol said along with removing vehicles, the items the trucks carried spilled onto the interstate, so crews will need to clean that before the interstate reopens.
Past the totaled vehicles, there’s a line of stopped traffic. Sgt. Kinder said those vehicles have been there since Thursday morning and will be able to move once the scene is cleared.
“Only in one of, one of the worse war movies, or in Chicago or St. Louis fire, something we’d maybe see on the news in a large city, but nothing of this nature in our area,” Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker said when describing the scene along I-57.
He said they’re just beginning the process of notifying family members.
“Notifying the families, we begin the process of positively identifying the remains we have in our care,” he said. “The towing services, the highway patrol reconstruction team, will now begin to start and try and figure out how the wreck happened, what started the wreck, and they’ve got hours and hours of reconstruction work to do.”
Anyone with questions, or who has information on the crash, is asked to call the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop E Headquarters at 573-840-9500.
The Scott City Fire Department said its agency was on scene for six hours before returning home. They said the crash involved more than 135 vehicles.
The East Prairie Police Department also spoke out about the crash.
The Cape Girardeau Fire Department called it a team effort as they worked together to extinguish fires, rescue people and provide medical assistance.
The Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office asked people to not got to Charleston for any reason until the incident was clear.
According to an alert from the sheriff’s office app, they said traffic was backing up and causing unnecessary hazards.
Authorities worked to reroute traffic.
Traffic was also diverted on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.
Southbound I-57 drivers were detoured off at the Cairo exit 1 to Route 3 North to Cape Girardeau.
Illinois State Police said District 22 troopers helped manage traffic control.
Drivers were urged to find alternate routes in Illinois and Missouri.
To view the MoDOT traveler map, click here.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet alerted those traveling from Kentucky through Illinois into Missouri on U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 that they would find most alternate routes around the crash site snarled with traffic and to expect it to remain that way for hours.
Drivers heading west into Missouri from Kentucky were advised to detour via the I-555 Mississippi River Bridge at Dyersburg, or a detour through Cape Girardeau to go westward from there.
Other river crossings include:
- I-155 in Caruthersville
- MO Route 74 in Cape Girardeau
- I-255, I-64, I-70, I-270 in St. Louis
- I-55 in Memphis, Tenn.
One person told us traffic was bumper-to-bumper in Anna on Thursday afternoon. Others have seen a long line of vehicles on 74 in Cape Girardeau.
Truck drivers discuss crash
One truck driver we talked to on Thursday said the fog was so thick that morning he could not see the car in front of him.
Sgt. Clark Parrott said the Missouri State Highway Patrol is looking into the role fog played in the crash.
One worker with a tow truck company who was helping on scene used to work in law enforcement and said this is the worst crash he’s seen in about 25 years. He said removing vehicles and clearing debris will continue to take time.
“You’re doing anything like this and you’re trying to be real careful with everything,” Jerry Hudgens, with Sullivan’s Tire and Towing, said. “Make sure that you don’t do any further damage. Make sure that everybody’s safe. Nobody gets hurt....You got to take your time, you can’t get in any hurry with it.”
According to Sikeston Department of Public Safety Chief James McMillan, several area emergency crews are responding including the Regional Homeland Security Response Team. The team is made up of first responders from Sikeston, Cape Girardeau and Jackson.
According to the Cairo City Clerk, mutual aid was called in from Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky.
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