A dozen vehicles were tangled in the southbound lanes of U.S. 41 in Appleton, Wisconsin, and tied up traffic for an entire afternoon. Police are still unclear as to how the motor vehicle accident began or even if the recent mid-day crash was the result of a series of accidents or stemmed from one major collision.
Two 18-wheelers and 10 cars were scattered across the highway last week. One Wisconsin police lieutenant expressed amazement that the multi-vehicle accident did not take any lives. He said it was "miraculous" that only a single driver, a 47-year-old Malone woman, was seriously injured. She was flown from the scene to a Neenah medical center. Five other victims were taken to local hospitals with less serious injuries. At least three were treated and then released.
Despite the crushed and tangled cars and trucks, none of the drivers or passengers required fire crews to extricate them. Although the vehicles were seriously damaged in the crash, no one died. One rescue official credits everyone's survival to effective air bags and seat belt use.
The multi-vehicle collision happened just at the start of lunch hour and closed all southbound lanes of U.S. 41 between State 47 and State 441. Crews needed more than six hours to clear the blocked roadway, reopening it only after 6 p.m.
It will take a while to unravel the story of this accident in order to establish fault. Local police authorities are compiling interviews and physical evidence and plan to make a 3D simulation in. As is often the case in these situations, reconstructing the accident will likely be necessary to determine what actually happened that day.
Source: Appleton Post Crescent, "'Miraculous' no one died in 12-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 41 in Appleton," 12 May 2011