31 vehicles in I-64 crash

5:42 PM, Feb 23, 2011   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) - St. Louis police believe icy road conditions were a factor in a 31-vehicle pile-up on eastbound Interstate 64 that sent 30 people to the hospital.

MoDOT Asst. District Engineer Tom Blair said when they saw the forecast change to include ice and freezing rain at 4:20 a.m., they called in all their workers to get in salt trucks and took people off of repairing potholes. By 5:00 a.m., 100 salt trucks were on the road. Crews started with bridges and overpasses.

The eastbound lanes of I-64 reopened around 9:30 a.m., about four and-a-half hours after the crash happened that closed the interstate between Vandeventer and Kingshighway.

Crews removed the 31 vehicles and took them to Scott and Theresa avenues.  They shoveled the debris onto flat bed trucks and hauled it away.

Three semi tractor trailers, two St. Louis Fire Department, two EMS units and an EMS supervisor were among those involved in the pile-up.

Fifteen of the injured were taken to Saint Louis University Hospital and four were admitted. One had to undergo surgery.  The other 15 victims went to Barnes Jewish Hospital's emergency room for treatment.  Some patients had broken bones, but none were seriously injured.

I-64 crash - PHOTOS

One man who was not injured in the crash said he saw the crashed UPS semi.  He was able to swerve and stop.  He got out of his vehicle and pulled an injured woman who was laying on the road out of the way because he could hear more vehicles coming.

Driver Doug Lemmons, of Dardenne Prairie, said he was on his drive to work when he hit ice and slid into the wreckage.

"I know I hit at least four to five direct impacts to my car," he said.  "During that time, there was some guy who must have got out of his vehicle because he wound up getting trapped in the SUV that was lodged up against the rear of my car; and listening to him just scream and talk about that he was going to die." 

Lemmons said he was trapped in his car for an hour until firefighters were able to cut him out.  He called 911, and to help pass the time, he talked to his wife and daughter on the phone.  He said they spotted his car in the wreckage from the aerial video on television and he was able to tell them that he was ok. 

Lemmons was taken to Barnes Hospital with hand, neck and back injuries.

Dr. Matt Smeds was driving into work at Saint Louis University Hospital when his vehicle was hit near the Vandeventer exit.  He said he was knocked out, but when he came to, other drivers told him to get out of his vehicle because more cars were coming and couldn't stop.

Saint Louis University Hospital said it was also treating two people injured in accidents in Illinois and two others injured in accidents on I-55.  Their conditions were unknown.


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