Almost 200 cars and trucks were involved in the chain-reaction crash, police say
Trucks carrying fireworks and formic acid were involved in the pileup
Michigan State Police had to use buses to evacuate people from a massive traffic pileup that also became a hazardous materials situation and included a fireworks explosion.
The accident happened Friday morning on Interstate 94, west of Battle Creek. Police said weather played a role by causing whiteout conditions and a slippery roadway.
Police said almost 200 cars and trucks were involved in the chain-reaction crash. Video from a witness showed cars and trucks slamming into the stalled wrecks and people running from their vehicles.
On the tape, panicked people can be heard yelling, “Get out of your vehicle.”
Authorities said one person was killed in the accident, a 57-year-old truck driver from Canada, and almost two dozen more were injured, including two firefighters who were working at the scene.
At one point during the accident, State Police said, a truck carrying fireworks crashed and exploded, setting other cars on fire. Another truck carrying formic acid also crashed, causing damage to the roadway.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, formic acid is a colorless liquid with a pungent, penetrating odor that can cause eye, skin and throat irritation as well as nausea. It is most often used for livestock feed preservation. The chemical occurs naturally in ant and bee venom.
Both eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway were closed for at least 14 hours.
“We took buses to the scene to get people out of there and to get them out of the cold,” said State Police Lieutenant Rick Padzer.
“It can be very stressful and frustrating for police responding,” he added.
CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.