(AP) – Twenty-seven vehicles slammed into each other during a sandstorm that blinded drivers on Interstate 80 in rural northern Nevada, killing a truck driver, seriously injuring several other people and sapping already thin emergency resources, officials said.
Humboldt County sheriff’s dispatchers called in virtually every medical, law enforcement and fire worker in the sparsely populated area after drivers reported “near-apocalyptic” conditions Monday evening on I-80 at Winnemucca, according to officials at Humboldt General Hospital there. A mine rescue crew also assisted, and a charter bus was used to transport victims who were uninjured.
“It was kind of surreal,” said Jared Oscarson, captain of clinical services at the hospital, describing a curtain of blowing dirt that at times hid the crash scene from rescuers’ sight. “There was kind of just chaos and destruction everywhere.”
The pileup shut down the east-west corridor, a major trucking route, into Tuesday as crews worked to clear the scene of wrecked vehicles and debris.
Chicago resident Ravi Dyer, 51, was killed when his truck rear-ended another commercial vehicle in the zero-visibility conditions, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol. Two other trucks hit his from behind, seriously injuring his passenger.
Humboldt General Hospital spokeswoman Nicole Maher said 26 people were treated at the hospital, including three in critical condition who were later transferred to a hospital in much-larger Reno, about 160 miles away.
High winds at about 5 p.m. Monday whipped up dust _ possibly loose from recently cleared fields _ and created whiteout-like conditions, authorities said. Vehicles, including semitrailers, passenger cars and a tow truck, piled up in both directions.
Authorities quickly shut down a 3-mile stretch of highway to prevent any other vehicles from driving into the pile. One side of the interstate reopened after 19 hours, while the other remained closed until Tuesday afternoon.
Images from the scene showed crunched-up vehicles, at least one overturned SUV, and damaged big rigs with their loads spilling onto the road. Maher said Tuesday that it took about 3 1/2 hours to extricate one person from a vehicle.
Hospital officials said the emergency response included some unusual helpers. The Winnemucca Police Department brought in a police transport vehicle, and the Coach America charter bus company was enlisted to shuttle people away from the scene.
A gold mine rescue crew from Newmont Mining Corp. assisted, Maher said, along with the entire emergency room and operating room teams at the 52-bed Winnemucca hospital.
Incident Commander Ken Whittaker also praised officials from Humboldt County who brought in water trucks and helped quell the choking brown dust so emergency crews could help the victims.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier