New Orleans — At least seven people died after the combination of smoke from swamp fires in southern Louisiana and Dense fog caused 158 vehicles to crash into each other Monday morningauthorities reported.
Twenty-five people were injured, and the death toll could rise as rescuers continue to clear debris and search for possible victims, Louisiana State Police said in an evening news release.
Governor John Bel Edwards appealed for blood donors and asked for prayers “for the wounded and dead”.
Videos of the crashes showed what looked like an endless junkyard on Interstate 55 near New Orleans. The vehicles were crushed, embedded under others, and some had been devoured by flames. There were many people watching the disaster on the side of the expressway, while others waited in their cars to be helped.
Christopher Coll, 41, was one of the drivers waiting at one of the crashes.
“I was already hitting the brakes, slowing down, when an F-250 truck jumped on the trailer I work with and took me for a ride.”Coll told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.
Coll could smell smoke while listening to other drivers yelling for help and the sounds of crashing cars and bursting tires. He was able to kick open the passenger side door to escape, and then helped other people, including one he pulled out through a car window.
There was a traffic jam for miles in both directions on Interstate 55. Lack of visibility also forced the closure of portions of I-10 and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at times.