Death toll rises to 8 in I-55 pileup; DOTD crews start cleanup, repairs
UPDATE: In a statement Wednesday, DOTD said there is still no timeline for reopening I-55 after the deadly crash. Read the update here.
MANCHAC - A major chain reaction crash closed I-55 and left at least eight people dead near the Tangipahoa Parish line Monday morning as vehicles piled onto one another, some of them catching fire, in dense fog.
The crash happened on the I-55 bridge in Manchac on Monday morning, just before 9 a.m. Fog mixed with smoke from marsh fires caused a "superfog," and visibility for drivers was extremely limited.
More than 168 vehicles were involved in the crash, with 63 people injured. Acadian Ambulance had more than 18 units from across the state working to help people involved.
Mangled vehicles caught on fire during the pileup. Seven people died on Monday and one more person who was injured died in the hospital on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday evening, the cars have been towed off the roadway, but State Police says the bridge will be closed until DOTD can make multiple structural repairs.
Once the road is cleared of debris, fuel and other chemicals, DOTD will begin work.
Prior to the crash, DOTD advised drivers early Monday morning to use the interstate as an alternate route as foggy conditions forced a shutdown of the Causeway Bridge.
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge South is closed to traffic due to dense fog. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes: i-55 South or I-10 to Twin Span Bridge.— North Shore Traffic (@NS_Traffic) October 23, 2023
Video from social media showed vehicles packed together in a mangled mess involving several dozen cars and trucks. Police said one driver had to escape a partially submerged truck after it went over the side of the bridge and into the water below.
Drivers are currently able to get on the interstate northbound at the Manchac on-ramp. Southbound traffic is still being diverted to Frontage Road.
The Blood Center in New Orleans declared it would be adopting mass casualty protocol and asked residents to find a donor center or a blood drive near them to help. You can visit the center's website here for more information.
Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement Monday:
“Please join me and Donna in praying for those hurt and killed in today’s tragic I-55 crash, as well as their families. The combination of wildfire smoke and dense fog is dangerous, and I want to encourage all Louisianans in affected areas to take extreme caution when traveling. I also want to thank the first responders and medical personnel who have worked so diligently to save lives and render aid. The best way you can help them, besides exercising caution on the road, is to donate blood at your local blood donation center. It will help replenish supplies that are being drained today to care for the wounded.”
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