FOWLERVILLE (WWJ) – Slippery snow and ice on I-96, east of Lansing, on Thursday caused a series of multi-vehicle accidents resulting in a massive pileup. Three people are confirmed dead and nearly a dozen more are hospitalized.

I-96 remained shut down until 10:20 p.m. westbound from M-59 to M-52 after the chain reaction crash in the area of Fowlerville Road, west of Fowlerville, that happened at around 9:30 a.m.

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Livingston County Sheriff Lt. Eric Sanborn says as many as 40 vehicles were involved, including multiple semi trucks and cars that were crushed between them. Three people were killed; 11 others were taken to Sparrow and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston hospitals with non life-threatening injuries.

Sanborn said rescue crews struggled to reach both victims and survivors. Several had to be extracted from their vehicles.

“It was very chaotic for them to be able to get all of the victims and be able to assess the situation. Some were trapped in just because of some mechanical (problems) with their cars,” he told reporters.

(credit: Ton Jordan/WWJ)

(credit: Ton Jordan/WWJ)

One driver calling WWJ Newsradio 950 said there were white-out conditions at the time, with speeds only around 25 miles an hour due to ice and low visibility.

“There’s at least seven semis in the ditch, jackknifed in the road, crushed a car between to semis,” said the witness, who didn’t want to give his name. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a fatality there.”

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Sanborn said, while an investigation is ongoing, weather certainly was a factor.

Eastbound I-96 earlier was closed at M-52, the Webberville exit as a precaution, but has since reopened. It’s not clear at this time when the westbound side would be cleared.

The names of the three people killed were not immediately released.

Meantime, salt trucks have been spotted on local roads as slick conditions are being reported in areas around metro Detroit.

Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said there were eight more minor crashes along I-696 due to people driving too fast for the conditions.

“We’re just trying to tell people I know it’s the first snowstorm, I know it’s the first time we’ve seen snow in a long time, but you gotta slow down and you gotta take a look at those closing distances between the cars in front of you,” Shaw said.

Keep it tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950 for the latest during traffic and weather, every 10 minutes on the 8s. Check our real-time traffic map now at this link

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