At least four people are dead in a horrific multiple-vehicle accident scene that stretches for more than a mile long along I-75 southbound, police said.
Michigan State Police Capt. Monica Yesh said the fatality number is tentative as police continue going through vehicles. She said at least 30 vehicles were involved in the pileup near the Springwells exit in Detroit Thursday morning. Springwells has been shut down.
According to a first responder on the scene, one victim's car is shattered, with the back of the car folded up over the front of it.
Yesh said the accident scene is roughly a mile and a half long.
There is conflicting information on whether any of those killed were children. Officials have reported both that none were children and that as many as three were.
People described total white-out conditions as they approached Springwells around 9:30 a.m. Motorists said they slammed on their brakes, but slid on slick, snow covered roads.
"It got real bad, real quick," said Greg Galuszka from Brownstown Township, who was unhurt in the accident. "It turned to ice real quick."
Just after noon, vehicles were beginning to be removed from the scene and more than a half a dozen tow trucks were on or near the interstate.
MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said sudden snow squalls whipped across the freeway just after 9 a.m., and although road crews had pre-salted the expressway's lanes, snowfall quickly iced up on the I-75 bridge over the Rouge River.
According the National Weather Service, a heavy snow squall moved through the area at around 9 a.m. It's unclear what the visibility was in that area, but meteorologist Debra Elliott, who is the observation program leader, said that for an event to be classified as heavy snow, the visibility would have to be a half a mile or less.
The accident started on the bridge, and one semi lost its load, according to MDOT.
At least a dozen fire and emergency vehicles responded to the scene, and at least 10 flatbed trucks came to assist.
Some of the vehicles are totaled, others have minor damage, one appeared to be wedged under a fuel truck and some ran into the embankment.
Northbound I-75 in the same area also is closed. That was done to prevent more gawker-related crashes; several non-serious wrecks were reported on that side of the freeway, Morosi said.
According to MSP, southbound I-75 will be closed for at least four hours, and possibly through the evening rush hour. Emergency personnel were focused, as of just before noon today, on rescuing injured motorists.
The Michigan State Police set up a mobile command post to begin coordinating how to remove crashed vehicles and handle hazardous materials removal because several crash-related fuel spills were reported.