Editor's Note: Indiana State Police have revised the number killed. It is now reported at two killed.
Interstate 69 in southeastern Hamilton County reopened Tuesday night after a massive pileup that involved 28 cars, five tractor-trailers and a fire truck, killing at least three people and injuring 11 others, state police said.
Several people were trapped in their cars in the pileup at mile marker 10, near the Verizon Wireless Music Center exit, police said. Two of the people killed were in a truck that was likely hit by at least two tractor-trailers and other person was in an SUV that went underneath a tractor-trailer, said state police Sgt. Mike Burns.
Two of the victims who died were identified as Dustin R. Goettman, 27, and Ryan A. Phillips, 28, both of Anderson. The identity of the third victim who died wasn't released.
"It was a white-out conditions. Nobody could see anything going in, and I was at the tail end," Jim Thomas told 6News' Ericka Flye. "I had the choice of going under the semi, or going off to the right, and I choose the right into the ditch."
School buses took survivors to hospitals and were used to warm up those who had been pulled from their cars but weren't injured. Buses also transported about 25 people who may have witnessed the pileup to the Fishers Police Department.
More than 30 miles of I-69 was closed from the crash site to mile marker 45 in Delaware County on Tuesday. The northern portion of the closure area reopened in the afternoon and the lanes near the crash site were opened shortly before 10 p.m.
Tractor-trailers were strewn about, and cars were scattered all over the crash site, some of them lodged under trailers.
"This is one of the largest car crashes that I've seen in my career," state police Sgt. Anthony Emery told 6News' Rafael Sanchez. "We had things as minor as complaints of pain and bruises up to very serious injuries, as I said, where folks had to be extricated out."
There were miles of vehicles stuck behind the wreck as temperatures plunged into the low teens and wind chills dipped below zero. Heavy snow had dramatically cut visibility and roads were icy when the crash happened.
Darren Dunham avoided being hit, but saw the crash as it happened.
"Just people driving too fast in these conditions and the visibility was, you know, 50 yards or less," he said. "I actually tried to slow down traffic and move traffic around so the rescue vehicles could use either side to actually get down to the actual accident itself because everything was just chaotic and all blocked off."
Numerous Additional Crashes Create Challenges
The I-69 accident was the most serious of dozens of crashes and slide-offs that peppered the morning commute.
Other crashes had shut down southbound I-69 at mile marker 26, in Madison County, Interstate 65 at State Road 267 in Boone County, Interstate 70 in Hancock County and northbound lanes of I-65 at Whiteland and I-70 in Henry County.
The Hancock County wreck involved eight vehicles -- two tractor-trailers and six cars and trucks. Motorists and police said there were white-out conditions on the interstate when the collision occurred.
"It was very slick. Traffic had slowed up ahead and couldn't get stopped," said Jack Walker, who was involved in the wreck.
One person suffered minor injuries. It took police and rescue crews about three hours to get the interstate back open in that area.
Two tractor-trailers, a car hauler, a double trailer, box truck, minivan and a car were involved in the Boone County accident.
"We had a three-vehicle crash in the roadway when a car hauler came to a stop, lost the trailer and went off into the ditch," said ISP Major Tom Melville. "A second vehicle came up and hit the guardrail."
Two people in the minivan were taken to a hospital. Officials said one of those people may have been hurt when he stepped out of the van.
Blinding snow fell in Indianapolis and other areas of central and southern Indiana during the worst possible time -- right at the start of the morning commute.
Traffic slowed to a crawl on interstates and other highways that weren't closed. For some, a 30-minute commute stretched beyond three hours.
Road crews were working feverishly to salt the roads, but snow came down so heavily that their early efforts appeared futile. As the snow tapered to flurries, road crews were able to clear streets and highways.
The Indiana Department of Transportation and Indianapolis Department of Public Works had full crews out to battle the snow.
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