By Keith Coffman
(Reuters) – Eight people, four of them children, were killed in a pile-up of 22 vehicles along a freeway in central Utah over the weekend when motorists were blinded by a windswept dust storm, police said Monday.
Ten injured survivors were taken to nearby hospitals, three of them in critical condition, authorities said.
The chain reaction accidents occurred on Interstate 15 in Millard County around 4:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, and the eight fatalities were in three different vehicles, the Utah Highway Patrol said in a statement.
The dead included a 15-year-old from Arizona who was a passenger in a Cadillac and three younger Utah children – ages 12, 6, and 2 – who were killed in a separate car along with two adult family members, the said Police with. Another Utah couple died in a third car.
The tragedy unfolded when several minor accidents blocked traffic along the freeway after high winds blew a cloud of dust across the pavement, about 150 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, which reduced visibility. A semi-trailer truck got stuck in the traffic jam and hit a pickup truck, causing the deadly chain reaction wreck, the police said.
“The most significant accidents occurred behind the semi-trailer, with two vehicles wedged under the rear of the trailer,” said the state patrol’s statement. “You seem to have been hit from behind by another pickup.”
Aerial and ground images of the wreck, posted on their website by the highway police, showed a number of mutilated cars and trucks, as well as heaps of debris scattered along the highway. A red car is shown embedded in the rear of a tractor unit.
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