Pileup on I-94: Crash involving multiple vehicles injures six, blocks I-94Whiteout conditions led to crashes Monday morning that sent six people to Jamestown Regional Medical Center and shut down Interstate 94 east of Jamestown for four hours, according to Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Whiteout conditions led to crashes Monday morning that sent six people to Jamestown Regional Medical Center and shut down Interstate 94 east of Jamestown for four hours, according to Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff.
A pileup accident involving multiple vehicles was reported at 8:25 a.m. at mile marker 265, about four miles west of the Spiritwood Exit on I-94. Over the next hours, additional vehicles became involved when they could not stop before striking the vehicles already crashed on the highway.
Ultimately, four semis and three sport utility vehicles were involved in the pileup with several receiving major damage. Kaiser said six people were taken to JRMC; no injuries were considered serious. The accident remains under investigation.
“The possible cause was the whiteout conditions this morning,” Kaiser said Monday. “People just couldn’t see what was ahead of them and rear-ended other vehicles.”
Kaiser said the accident shut down the eastbound lane of I-94. Emergency vehicles used the westbound lane, prompting the North Dakota Department of Transportation to close the highway in both directions between Valley City and Jamestown at about 9:15 a.m. The westbound lane reopened at about 1:30 p.m. with the eastbound lane following at about 3 p.m.
Travelers who ignored the road closures made things worse, Kaiser said.
“Then we had two more accidents where people went around the gates and then rear-ended vehicles that were held up by the accident,” Kaiser said.
Those drivers were cited for bypassing a road closure.
Kaiser said the low visibility and slippery conditions resulted in a number of vehicles in the ditch around Stutsman County, with several in the Pingree area.
Reports Monday afternoon also included a jackknifed semi blocking N.D. Highway 46 four miles east of the junction with U.S. Highway 281. It was later cleared.
“It was slippery as well but the visibility was by far the worst factor,” Kaiser said. “The blowing snow wasn’t plugging up roads — you just couldn’t see.”
In Jamestown, street conditions Monday morning were reported slippery and sanding trucks were out, according to Lt. Bruce Judd, shift supervisor at the Law Enforcement Center dispatch center.
The wind and snow were the product of a powerful Alberta Clipper that moved through the area.
“It brought the typical snow and wind,” said Ken Simosko, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck. “One of the stronger clippers to have come through the area.”
Simosko said a number of Alberta Clippers had come through the areas in the past weeks. All the previous ones were less intense. However, future weather systems seem to be coming from a different direction.
“The weather patterns might be changing,” he said. “We have systems coming from the southwest by the middle of the week. That type of system is more favorable for more snow. It looks like one Wednesday night through Friday, another one late in the weekend, possibly another one after that.”
Simosko said the weather pattern for the next 10 to 14 days does not include any spring-like weather.
“It’s cold and will stay cold for a while,” he said. “The weather patterns are getting more active but there is still no signs of spring.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com