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Trooper Recounts Detroit Freeway Pileup Rescue

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(credit: WWJ/Kathryn Larson)

(credit: WWJ/Kathryn Larson)

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A Michigan State Police trooper who was among the first emergency responders at a chain-reaction wreck that killed three people is recounting his efforts credited with saving a child’s life.

Trooper Seth Swanson was one of the first people to arrive at the accident on I-75 in southwest Detroit Jan. 31.

Swanson said motorists directed him to a crumpled car with three children inside. After failing to find a pulse on two of them, he broke a window to reach the third.

“It was frustrating because I only have two hands, and they were used to keep her head and her spine straight so she didn’t further injure herself. It was frustrating because there was nothing I could do for the other two children that were laying, one was laying in the seat and one was laying on the floor,” said Swanson.

The girl, identified as 10-year-old Hannah Greenwood, had a faint pulse and Swanson, who has been a trooper for four years, cleared her airway and administered rescue breaths until she regained consciousness.

Greenwood was released from a hospital this week. Two other children in the car died. They were identified as 9-year-old Gabrielle Greenwood of Windsor, Ontario, and her 7-year-old stepbrother Aidan Hicks. An adult male who was also in the car was released from the hospital, while an adult female has been upgraded to serious condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

PHOTO GALLERY: Multi-Vehicle I-75 Accident

“By the time the paramedics got there, they basically did the same assessment that I did and determined to focus on the one girl who was conscious. I wish I could have taken care of all three of them, that was the most frustrating part,” said Swanson.

Also killed in the crash was 54-year-old Larry Manolis, of Allen Park. Twelve or more people were transported to area hospitals, most with back, neck and head injuries. At least two of those hospitalized were reported in critical condition.

The crash was caused by white-out conditions and slippery pavement. Police say a total of 43 vehicles and semi-trucks were involved in 12 separate crashes over a mile-long stretch of I-75.

“When I approached the scene, it was a total whiteout,” Swanson said. “You couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you, and then the snow cleared, and all I could see were cars and trucks scattered all over the highway.”

Multiple cars were seen crushed up against the median and some motorists, at one point, were trapped in their cars. Several vehicles were overturned and twisted metal littered the freeway.

Southbound I-75 was shut down between Springwells and Dearborn Street for several hours while police tried to figure out exactly what led to the massive series of crashes.

Troopers say that they have now completed all of the investigations, except for inquiries into the two fatal crashes — for which they are awaiting autopsy and toxicology results and vehicle inspections.

MORE: Police: 43 Vehicles In 12 Separate Crashes During I-75 Pileup

Family Identifies Man Who Died In Massive I-75 Pileup

3 Killed, Trucks Tangled In ‘Nightmare’ Pileup On I-75

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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