A large vehicle pile-up occurred last week on I-94 in Monticello.
A total of 29 vehicles were involved, half of which were semi-trucks.
It was reported that a winter squall created some very sudden white-out conditions. Witnesses say a white semi was stopped on I-94, and that the driver appeared to be clearing snow from the windshield. The non-emergency stop may have led to the accident.
Unfortunately, one Northern Metals truck from Becker was caught in the middle of the accident. The driver is doing fine, apart from being shaken up. He said that the traffic had slowed way down just before the accident due to the poor weather conditions. Because of this, he was fortunately able to slow almost to a complete stop by the time he reached the cars piling up in front of him. He reported that many cars came in behind him, and he could feel the collisions for a long time after that – they were still coming as he called both 911 and the Northern Metals dispatch. He spotted a fire coming from under the hood of one of the other vehicles, but didn’t dare leave his truck until emergency responders came for fear that more vehicles were still coming.
Thankfully, no one was killed or even severely hurt in the accident, which took over nine hours to clean up. Nine people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.
Some of the drivers, including the one that is suspected to have played a role in causing the incident, left the scene of the crash before being identified. Anyone with information on the crash should call the State Patrol St. Cloud office at 320-223-6666.
The Minnesota State Patrol sent out these guidelines for winter travel along with a press release about the crash:
• Avoid travel when there is limited visibility;
• Always drive with your headlights on during the winter;
• Slow down and drive to the conditions of the road;
• Be vigilant, especially on bridges, overpasses, and on and off ramps;
• Tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you plan on arriving;
• Carry a winter survival kit;
• Make sure your cell phone is fully charged;
• Wear your seat belt, put the distractions away and always line up a sober ride.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation.