Frozen equipment delays reopening Interstate 94 in Michigan

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GALESBURG, Mich. — An effort to reopen Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan stalled Saturday as crews tried to safely remove acid from a tanker truck, one of 193 vehicles involved in an extraordinary pileup a day earlier on the snowy highway.

Equipment problems related to cold weather were affecting the acid cleanup, said First Lt. James Coleman of the Michigan State Police.

“The valve on the pump froze. … We’re not in a position to say when (I-94) will reopen,” Coleman told the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The number of vehicles involved in crashes Friday has fluctuated, but state police finally settled on 193, including dozens of semis. A Canadian trucker, Jean Larocque, 57, of Saint-Chrysostome, Quebec, was killed and about two dozen people were taken to hospitals.

“You saw the scene, everybody saw it on television — 193 vehicles,” Coleman said. “We’ve made great progress. It’s phenomenal how everybody has come together.”

A truck carrying fireworks caught fire, triggering a spectacular explosion of the cargo. That driver was not hurt.

State police Lt. Dale Hinz said towing so many vehicles was “brutal” overnight, with temperatures barely above zero.

Ryan Bovee, 35, said his car was struck by a van, although he was allowed to drive away a few hours after the chain of crashes in Kalamazoo County, 150 miles east of Chicago.

“You just kept hearing the crunches of the vehicles hitting,” he said. It was unreal.”

<small><strong>A vehicle rest along the median at the scene of a series of crashes along Interstate 94, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. | Mark Bugnaski . AP</strong></small>

A vehicle rest along the median at the scene of a series of crashes along Interstate 94, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. | Mark Bugnaski . AP

<small><strong>Vehicles rest along the median at the scene of a series of crashes along Interstate 94, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. State police say at least one person has died in

Vehicles rest along the median at the scene of a series of crashes along Interstate 94, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. State police say at least one person has died in the series of crashes involving roughly 150 vehicles. | Mark Bugnaski / AP

<small><strong>Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County. | Christian Randolph / AP</s

Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County. | Christian Randolph / AP

<small><strong>Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. | Chri

Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. | Christian Randolph / AP

<small><strong>The charred remains of vehicles and debris sit on Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. | Christian Randolph / AP</strong><small></small></small>

The charred remains of vehicles and debris sit on Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. | Christian Randolph / AP

<small><strong>The charred remains of vehicles sits in a ravine along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, as road crews work to clear them the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County,

The charred remains of vehicles sits in a ravine along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, as road crews work to clear them the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. The number of vehicles involved in the series of crashes Friday has fluctuated. | Christian Randolph / AP

<small><strong>Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. The nu

Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. The number of vehicles involved in the series of crashes Friday has fluctuated. State police now say there were 193, including dozens of semi-trucks. | Christian Randolph / AP

<small><strong>Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. The nu

Road crews work to clear wrecked vehicles and debris along Interstate 94, Saturday, Jan. 10, 0215, the day after a series of crashes closed the highway between mile markers 88 and 92 in eastern Kalamazoo County, near Galesburg, Mich. The number of vehicles involved in the series of crashes Friday has fluctuated. State police now say there were 193, including dozens of semi-trucks. A trucker from Ottawa, Canada, was killed and about two dozen people were taken to hospitals. | Christian Randolph / AP

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