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 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.”