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Detroit Pileup Leaves 12 Injured

January 18, 1999

DETROIT (AP) _ Black ice, fog and high speed were being blamed for a chain-reaction crash just south of Detroit that injured at least a dozen people, one critically.

The Sunday morning accident along the westbound lane of Interstate 94 was described by one witness as a ``pinball machine″ of wreckage that included as many as 50 cars and trucks.

Police said the pileup began as a single-car accident that triggered an eight-car smash-up, quickly growing into a series of smaller accidents that forced authorities to shut down the interstate for several hours.

Even an ambulance responding to the accident crashed into a vehicle.

``You’re patting yourself on the back for not hitting anyone, then someone comes in and sails into your car,″ said Ed Jankow, who was headed to his job at Detroit Metropolitan Airport when he spotted the accident.

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

``I was lucky that I was standing on the median,″ said Jankow, 52. ``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.″

One critically injured victim was transferred by helicopter to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Oakwood Healthcare System spokeswoman Jennifer George-Robinson said.

The victim was listed in critical condition with injuries to her head, pelvis and legs, University of Michigan Health System spokesman Pete Barkey said.

Ten other victims were treated for injuries ranging from cuts to bruises and chest pains, Ms. George-Robinson said.

A 12th victim _ a woman _ was treated at a hospital in suburban Wyandotte and was released, spokesman John Lewandowski said.

Authorities reopened I-94 to eastbound traffic about noon Sunday and to westbound traffic about 2 p.m., Sosa said.

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