A dust storm in Montana led to the deaths of at least six people after 21 vehicles crashed together on Interstate 90 in Big Horn County.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has confirmed the incident, writing on Twitter: “I’m deeply saddened by the news of a mass casualty crash near Hardin. Please join me in prayer to lift up the victims and their loved ones. We’re grateful to our first responders for their service.”
According to Fox News, two of the deceased were children. Authorities have no yet stated how many people were injured in the crash.
The pileup is believed to have been caused by the storms’ heavy winds and zero visibility. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who oversees the highway patrol, said first responders are currently investigating the accident.
“The Montana Highway Patrol is on the scene with other first responders and investigating the incident. This investigation is still ongoing. We will release more information as it becomes available and is appropriate out of respect of the lives lost and their loved ones,” Knudsen said.
Jose Strickland, who witnessed the pileup, told CNN that he skidded to a stop when the crash happened right in front of him. Strickland says he and others helped get people to safety after the pileup. He said one elderly man had to be pried out of his vehicle in order to get him onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.
“Visibility dropped in an instant,” Strickland recalled in a Facebook post. “I still can’t get over the fact that we were 1 truck away from disaster.”
Ariel Dehart, who arrived right after the accident occurred, says she saw a camper van ripped open in the crash. “The visibility was so poor and scary,” Dehart told CNN. “The air was warm and eerie. It was like wearing sepia-colored glasses. It was so crazy.”
“When I saw the ripped-open camper, my gut dropped,” she said. “But the owner just was frantically putting his decorative pillows back in the camper, and it was so sad because he was obviously so in over his head with what just happened.”
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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