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Fog Causes Highway Pileups In Illinois, Florida, Killing Six

January 1, 1990

Undated (AP) _ Fog-shrouded stretches of highway in Illinois and Florida on Saturday led to a series of accidents, setting off fires and causing cars to stack ″like pancakes.″ The Illinois accidents killed six people and injured 18, officials said.

At least 23 vehicles piled up along a five-mile stretch of Interstate 74 in east-central Illinois, police said.

″They’re having to pull them (the cars) out separately. I guess they’re just stacked in there like pancakes,″ said Sgt. Jerry Culp.

Authorities said identities of the six victims would not be released until Sunday, after relatives were notified.

Officials said the highway was reopened by late afternoon. It was closed in both directions between St. Joseph and Ogden, about 120 miles south of Chicago, after the accidents about 9 a.m. All traffic during that time was re- routed to U.S. 150, Culp said.

″Several of the vehicles were all burnt up,″ Culp said. ″There were 10 vehicles in the main accident, so you’re talking about eight to 10 vehicles that are all burnt.″

The highway was littered with wreckage until late afternoon, said State Police Sgt. Ron Haring. He said authorities were not sure how the accidents developed.

″There may have been a car that went out of control,″ Haring said.

″I believe there were a couple of semis involved. How it went down exactly I don’t know yet,″ Culp said. ″It was extremely foggy at the time.″

Gerald Sappenfield, chief of the Ogden-Royal Fire Protection District, said cars at the scene were ″just sandwiched one on top of the other.″

″It looked like it was straight out of the movies - one of them you see about multi-car accidents out in California,″ Sappenfield said. ″They just kept running underneath each other and piling into the car that was in front of them.″

Seven accident victims were admitted at area hospitals, spokesmen said, adding all were in fair or stable condition. Eleven other people were treated and released, they said.

In Florida, 19 vehicles piled into each other on a foggy stretch of Interstate 95 near Cocoa Beach.

Northbound lanes of the highway near the accidents remained closed for more than two hours after the 8:30 a.m. chain-reaction collision involving a tractor-trailer rig and 18 other vehicles, a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman said.

An earlier pileup on the same stretch of the interstate had been cleared before the 19-vehicle accident, police said.

Police said an unspecified number of motorists were injured in the accidents, but no deaths were reported.

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