Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Pileup injures at least nine

Visibility near zero due to fog in I-71 wreck

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPARTA, Ky. — An eight-vehicle pileup on Interstate 71 Tuesday morning closed northbound lanes for more than 7 1/2 hours and injured nine people.

        Police blamed heavy fog for the wreck that occurred shortly before 8 a.m. in Carroll County just south of Sparta, 35 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

        One of the injured was in serious but stable condition Tuesday night at University Hospital.

        Seven others were treated at various hospitals and released, and another driver sought treatment on his own, police said.

        The initial crash happened when a car carrier driven by William W. Smith, 57, of Silver Creek, N.Y., hit a transport truck driven by Darin Hood, 36, of Louisville, police said. Mr. Hood had slowed in the very dense fog and was hit in the rear by Mr. Smith's truck, police said.

        That collision set off a chain-reaction of wrecks involving six other vehicles, police said.

        Mr. Smith and Mr. Hood were both treated at Carroll County Memorial Hospital and released.

        The University Hospital patient was Ronald Thornton, 52, of Cincinnati, who was driving a pickup truck. He suffered spinal cord injuries, a nursing supervisor said.

        Traffic on northbound lanes, which reopened at 3:30 p.m., was backed up for more than 20 miles, said Kentucky State Police spokesman John Bradley.

        The Gallatin County Fire Department had to extract occupants from two of the most mangled vehicles.

        Traffic was diverted to the Carrollton exit and onto U.S. 42.

        Transportation companies directed their trucks traveling from Louisville to Cincinnati to take Interstate 64 east to Lexington, where they could pick up I-75 north.

        The wreck did not affect Tristate commuters, said Linda Roll, a su pervisor with ARTIMIS.

        “It only caused delay with people trying to get here from Louisville,” she said.

        John Thomas was one of the truck drivers stuck in the resulting backup.

        “There is nothing I can do but sit and wait for police to clear up the mess,” he said while leaning against his rig. “I didn't see the accident. I just came upon this (pointing to the mangled cars and trucks). It was really foggy at the time. It was hard to see what was on the road ahead of you.”

        Officials said visibility was as low as zero at the time of the wreck.

        “It is common to have fog this time of year,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Myron Padgett. “You could almost call it fog season.”

        He said the fog formed because there was moisture on the ground and overnight temperatures dropped.


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