Blowing winds, low visibility, and "brownout" conditions are to blame for a massive pileup on Interstate 70 in eastern Colorado that killed two people and severely burned a third.
"It was so intense right at the spot of the scene, I literally held my hand out arms length and I couldn't see my hand in front of my face," said Colorado State Trooper David Hall. "It was that bad."
The Colorado State Patrol said the chain-reaction crash on westbound I-70, 15 miles east of Limon, involved 10 passenger cars and five semitrailers. One of the vehicles is believed to have stopped suddenly or slowed down, causing a chain-reaction crash and fire which destroyed two vehicles and damaged a third, Hall said.
Gusting winds of up to 50 mph made responding to the crash even more difficult.
"Initial troopers that responded to the scene met incredibly difficult conditions," Hall told 7NEWS. "Some were having to feel around with their hands to find injured people."
The two people who died in the crash were identified Tuesday as Margorie Davis, 68, of Arriba, Colo., and Jason N. Bird, 37, of Broomfield, Colo. They were in separate vehicles, and were pronounced dead at the scene by the Lincoln County Coroner, Hall said.
Five people were injured. Their injuries ranged from minor to serious. Fourteen people escaped unhurt.
"The conditions at the time of the crash were near zero visibility with winds of 50+ mph blowing dust across the roadway in a north-to south direction creating a dust storm," Hall said.
A peak wind gust of 58 mph was reported around 1 p.m. in Limon, according to the National Weather Service office in Goodland, Kan.
The crash and dust storm forced authorities to close an 80-mile stretch of I-70, from Limon to Burlington, near the Kansas state line. All lanes of the interstate were reopened by 9:30 p.m.
The state patrol said it was not known if charges would be filed in connection with the crash.
The collision occurred near Mile Marker 374, near the town of Genoa, 90 miles southeast of Denver.
Sharon K. Chatterton, 63 of Colorado Springs, received serious injuries and was transported to University Hospital in Denver.
Those who received minor to moderate injuries and were transported to Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo were:
Amber S. Tate-Bird, 37 of Broomfield, Colo. Kimberly Delve, 43 of Agate, Colo. David B. Glascock, 59 of Ashland, Mo. Richard C. Launius, 44 of Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Those who were involved but were not injured were:
Yoongkeu Bang, 39 of Centennial, Colo. Michael L. Rosenkrans, 41 of Silva, Mo. Charles S. Ogg, 51 of Lancaster, Ohio Roger D. Herman, 60 of Henderson, Nevada Daniel M. Burski Jr., 52 of Larkspur, Colo. Eric De Shields, 20 of Cape May, New Jersey Charles E. Lowrance, 70 of Lebenon, Mo. Grady W. Tedder, 64 of Heston, Kan. Darren Thomas, 39 of Dodge City, Kan. Don Koehn, 45 of Dodge City, Kan. Lonnie L. Hornung, 28, unknown residence. Kale S. Unruh, 29, unknown residence. John Dagin, 30 of Garden City, Kan. Steve Ray, unknown age and residence.
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