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Man 'happy to be alive' after 40-vehicle pileup

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Posted at 2:36 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 14:36:18-05

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – In the beginning of the crash that ended up being a 40-vehicle pileup on I-74 in Dearborn County near the Indiana-Ohio line during a winter storm Tuesday, one driver narrowly dodged three jackknifed tractor-trailers.

In a 911 call, the man described to dispatchers how trucks jackknifed off the road on both sides of him as they avoided another truck jackknifed across the highway.

“One went off on the right, one on the left, and one’s blocking the whole interstate,” he said during the call.

The pileup started at about 11 a.m. when one semi jackknifed and snow caused it to escalate quickly, according to the Indiana State Police.

“It’s jackknifed,” the caller said. “It’s a complete whiteout and then the trucks behind us went on either side of me, and I’m just happy to be alive. It’s atrocious, and the whole interstate is blocked now.”

As the pile-up grew, more drivers called 911 to report the “major wreck.”

“There’s people trapped in cars, there’s a ton of cars, there’s gas leaking,” one caller reported.

The pileup was so large that callers couldn’t even tell how many cars were involved. One 911 caller was so upset that she could barely speak to the dispatchers.

Somehow, no one was seriously hurt, according to troopers, but six people were hospitalized. I-74 remained closed for hours in both directions.