50-Car Pileup Closes I-25


 
 

Michael Van Cassell | | Thursday, March 26, 2009


CHEYENNE -- A wet spring blizzard caused a large pileup on Interstate 25 near the Wyoming/Colorado border and closed schools, local government offices and businesses Thursday.

Authorities said 50 vehicles were involved in the pileup, which occurred at 9 a.m. on the Colorado side of the border. Nine of 33 people taken to the hospital were treated for injuries, authorities said.

Laramie County Fire District 1 Interim Chief Aaron Fowler said six people were sent to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center by ambulance for treatment.

Kathy Baker, public relations manager for the hospital, said in a news release that by midday, 39 people had been transported to the hospital's emergency department by ambulance or school bus.

Fifteen of those transported received medical treatment, and all 15 had been released, according to the news release. The other 24 people received food, counseling and other assistance from the hospital, The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.

No other hospitals received patients.

Twenty vehicles had to be towed away from the crash, Fowler said, and when firefighters arrived, visibility was reduced to about 100 yards because of blowing snow.

"They were just scattered everywhere down there," Fowler said of the vehicles.

Fowler said two tractor-trailers had jackknifed in the crash, and other vehicles went through cattle fences into pastures off the interstate and spilled onto the median.

Both northbound and southbound lanes of the interstate were closed, with the crashes mostly occurring in the southbound lane.

The city of Cheyenne had received about 4 inches of snow as of 3 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, with little to no snow expected overnight.

The wind chill reached -5 degrees Fahrenheit, said Jim Robinson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Chad Hahn, another Weather Service meteorologist, did not have an amount of snow for the Wyoming/Colorado state line.

"It would probably be more than we received here," Hahn said.

The Associated Press in Denver reported at least a foot of snow had fallen across the state line.

Hahn said no snow was expected for Cheyenne today.

Wind gusts were between 25 and 35 mph in the city and exceeded 40 mph at the state border, Hahn said.

For several hours, CRMC asked residents to only come to the hospital for emergencies while they braced to treat crash victims.

Cheyenne Police Lt. Mark Munari said there had been about a dozen crashes around the city as of 3 p.m. Thursday.

"It hasn't been too awful busy," Munari said.

Most city, county and state government offices, all schools and Laramie County Community College closed early Thursday.

Laramie County School Districts 1 and 2, St. Mary's Catholic School and Trinity Lutheran School closed early. State, Laramie County and city of Cheyenne offices were all closed by 3:30 p.m.

Laramie County Community College closed, but the campus remained open for the high-school speech meet until 5 p.m.

The Laramie County Library closed at 1 p.m., and all programs for Thursday night were postponed.

Others closed include: F.E. Warren Air Force Base, including LCCC classes there; Boys and Girls Club of Cheyenne; Cheyenne Parks and Recreation activities; the Cheyenne Family YMCA; Trinity Lutheran's day-care center; the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, although Animal Control still responded to emergency calls.

This 50-car pileup south of the Colorado/Wyoming border Thursday morning closed Interstate 25 for the day. Six people were taken by ambulance to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and listed in fair condition, and another three were treated for minor injuries after being taken with about two dozen others to the hospital by school buses. Mike Rodriguez/courtesy




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