MARION, Ark. (AP) _ Investigators matched drivers to the twisted and charred wreckage of cars and trucks as they probed a fiery 27-vehicle interstate pileup that killed eight people and injured 18.
Wreckage from the chain-reaction crash in dense fog on Interstate 55 about four miles north of West Memphis kept the highway closed for 16 hours until early Sunday.
Industrial cranes hoisted the charred wreckage off the highway while vehicles were routed around the pileup onto a service road.
Arkansas State Police officials and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board met Sunday in West Memphis to discuss the crash, which occurred just across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn.
″What we were doing is placing the vehicles, numbering them, matching drivers to cars,″ Cpl. Larry Patterson of the state police said.
″We do not know who was at fault. It will be a number of weeks before that determination is made,″ he said.
Those who died were mainly in vehicles in the middle of the chain of vehicles, burned and crushed under pipe, wire and charcoal that spilled from damaged tractor-trailers, Patterson said.
The pileup occurred about 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the southbound lane of the interstate. Two of eight tractor-trailers in the crash were crumpled like accordions, three vehicles burned and screaming motorists tried to flee, witnesses said.
Joseph Futta of Jonesboro said he and his wife were on their way to Memphis when the fog suddenly became tinged with fire.
″Two trailers were burning, and cars were all along the side of the road ... I tried to go to the left, and I saw there was nothing but fire,″ he said Saturday.
″I just put it in reverse and just hoped there was nobody back there ... And we got out of there, backwards,″ Futta said. ″Luckily, there was nobody in back of me.″
Motorists left their cars and ran ″because there were explosions, and nobody knew where they were from,″ he said.
Patterson said Saturday that a freak temperature inversion was to blame for the dense fog.
The dead included four local people, an Illinois couple and a man and a woman from Los Angeles.
A spokeswoman for the Regional Medical Center in Memphis said Sunday that Carolyn Henderson, no age available, of Blytheville, was in critical condition in trauma burn unit.
She said one person was in satisfactory condition, another was in fair condition and a fourth was treated and released. A spokeswoman at Methodist Central hospital in Memphis said one person was treated and releasd there Saturday.
In West Memphis, 12 people were treated and released at Crittenden Memorial Hospital, a state police spokesman said. One person who underwent surgery was in satisfactory condition, he said.