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12 Hurt in Mich. Freeway Pileup

January 17, 1999

DETROIT (AP) _ Up to 50 cars and trucks smashed together Sunday in a massive freeway pileup a witness described as a ``pinball machine″ of wreckage. The accident was blamed on black ice, fog and high speed.

The chain-reaction crash on Interstate 94 just south of Detroit injured at least a dozen people, one critically with injuries to her head, pelvis and legs.

Ed Jankow had been driving westbound on the interstate to his job at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in nearby Romulus when he spotted the accident ahead.

Seconds after pulling to the shoulder and stepping from his car, other vehicles slammed into his.

``I was lucky that I was standing on the median,″ the 52-year-old Clinton Township man said. ``The way they were bouncing off each other (was like) a pinball machine.

Michigan State Police Trooper John Sosa said the fog and drivers moving too fast ``coupled with the black ice on the roadway caused cars to spin out of control. Those factors spelled nothing but trouble.″

The woman who suffered the worst injuries was listed in critical condition at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Health System spokesman Pete Barkey said.

Ten other victims were treated either at hospitals in Dearborn and Taylor for slight injuries ranging from cuts to bruises and chest pains, officials said. A 12th victim was treated at a hospital in suburban Wyandotte and was released.

The crash forced the freeway’s closure in both directions over a several-mile stretch for hours. Authorities reopened I-94 to eastbound traffic about noon Sunday, two hours before the westbound lanes were reopened.

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