• January 31, 2023

27 Injured in 85-Vehicle Pileup Crash on I-39/90 in Rock County, WI

Rock County, WI — January 27, 2023, at least 27 people were injured in a large 85-vehicle pileup accident on Interstate 39/90 in Rock County.

Authorities say the incident began shortly before 12:30 p.m. on I-39/90 near the Wisconsin/Illinois border. Preliminary investigation suggests traffic was moving through snow, ice, and possible whiteout conditions in the area when multiple vehicles collided, resulting in a large chain-reaction pileup wreck. Images at the scene show several tractor-trailers were involved in the accident.

Officials say one fatality occurred in the crash but reportedly added it was unrelated to the pileup. At least 27 other people were injured.

The accident remains under investigation. No further information is currently available.

When wrecks like this happen in places accustomed to serious winter storms, I sometimes wonder if they'll really get the careful attention and investigation they deserve. I'm not suggesting that whiteout conditions and icy roads aren't major hazards, but it's important not to pin everything on that from the get-go and also look into the finer details of the matter. Pileup crashes like this are sometimes more nuanced than people think.

Not long ago there was a terrible accident in Fort Worth where more than a hundred vehicles piled up on an icy interstate. The wreck killed several people and injured many more, but as hazardous as weather and road conditions were investigators eventually determined that the crash's true cause was multiple drivers—commercial and civilian alike—simply not reacting appropriately to the dangers. When roads are wet or icy, most drivers understand that they need to slow down drastically, increase following distance, and exercise utmost caution if they have to be on the road at all; unfortunately, knowing something in the abstract and putting it into practice are different things.

27 Injured in 85-Vehicle Pileup Crash on I-39/90 in Rock County, WI

I don't say any of that to judge or point fingers at the people caught up in the Wisconsin crash. I only mean that it's likely best not to just blame Mother Nature and call that the end of it. How precisely did the crash begin, and then how did it keep getting bigger? How did several commercial drivers, who get specialized training in navigating rough weather and bad roads, get involved? It seems like there are still plenty of dots that need connecting here, so I hope before all is said and done that authorities turn them into a clear picture.

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