The deadly accident transpired on Interstate 55 in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish on Monday, culminating in the fatality of at least seven people. Louisiana state police reported that the horrific scene, which involved a staggering 158 vehicles, also left over 25 people with injuries. The victims, with a health spectrum ranging from minor to critical, were transported to nearby medical facilities for treatment.
The severe pileups were significantly exacerbated by dense “super fog,” a phenomenon that typically develops in humid, smoky conditions, often reducing visibility to less than ten feet. The tragedy struck the area, located west of New Orleans, in the earlier hours of the day.
Unfortunately, some of the vehicles ignited post-collision, generating a dangerous situation further complicated by a tanker truck carrying an undisclosed “hazardous liquid.” The compromised truck was a focal point for authorities, who spent Monday evening working diligently to move it from the crash site.
The police held concerns regarding potentially locating additional casualties once the hazardous truck was cleared, expressing the gravity of the incident. In light of this, public appeals were made for any individuals with family members unaccounted for, who might have been traveling in the vicinity.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards offered his prayers for the victims of the multiple collisions and cautioned residents of the dangers of smoke and fog amalgamation. He further expressed gratitude to the first responders, remarking their diligence in saving lives amidst the turmoil. He also encouraged the public to support by donating blood to maintain necessary medical supplies.
The Parish Sheriff, Mike Tregre, reported separate accidents involving three 18-wheel trucks and multi-car pileups in different bound lanes. All engulfed in flames, the horrific incident left the area “completely gridlocked,” necessitating first responders to attend to victims on foot.
Dubbed as “super fog,” the poor visibility noted at a nearby weather station was a result of a combination of fog and smoke from ongoing fires. This adverse condition has been plaguing Louisiana due to the unprecedented wildfires, extreme heat, and relentless drought since the summer, leaving about 62% of the state grappling with an exceptional drought.
The city of New Orleans noted the worsening condition with an active underground fire in forested wetlands on Monday. The ongoing drought coupled with the extreme heat of summer has resulted in parched wetlands and a diminished water table.
For residents, hope emerges as the National Weather Service forecasts stronger winds on Tuesday, reducing the chances of another “super fog” occurrence. While patchy dense fog areas may still exist, conditions are expected not to be as severe as Monday’s, providing a much-needed respite.