LAFAYETTE, Indiana (WTHR) – After sitting for hours in a parking lot of wrecked cars and semi tractor trailers, some of them on fire, Bob Nash was never so glad to get to a Denny’s near I-65 in Lafayette, Indiana.
“Somewhere besides the highway,” said Nash, who sat for hours with his wife in their car after they were involved in a chain reaction of crashes Saturday on I-65 North.
“Most everybody was like me or like we were. Sitting and waiting,” said Nash.
“I slid off. I got stopped. The lady behind me got stopped and then we both got rear ended by a car sliding into us,” Nash explained.
“Just one crash after another, after another,” said Indiana State Police Sergeant Kim Riley.
According to investigators it all started about 2:50 p.m. Saturday on I-65 near Lafayette when a semi slowed for a crash that was in front of him. Semis behind were not able to get stopped because they were traveling too fast for road conditions or following too closely.
Nine semis and four cars were involved in the initial crash with secondary crashes occurring behind the original crash.
Four people were taken to area hospitals with non life threatening injuries.
Northbound lanes of Interstate 65 near mile marker 174 (about one mile south of the State Road 25 exit) and remained closed until Sunday morning – opening around 4:30 a.m.
The southbound lanes of I-65 were closed for about three hours and were reopened around 8 p.m. Saturday.
Indiana State Police said 30 some vehicles – maybe more – ended up disabled and stuck on the highway for hours, along with the drivers inside them.
The scene only got worse, when two of the semi’s caught fire.
One fire started in the engine compartment of a semi and its load of frozen pizzas burned along with a second semi trailer loaded with fluorescent lights. Lafayette Fire Department arrived to extinguish the fire.
All drivers like Bob Nash, sitting in the mess, could do, was wait for tow trucks to get them off the highway.
“We’d let the car run for a little while and then shut it off, run it awhile and shut it off, just enough to keep warm,” said Nash.
Eight hours after the initial crash, many of the drivers had left the scene, while the clean-up continued for several more hours.
Officials say they have not been able to determine how many vehicles were involved in the secondary crashes.