Photos Reveal What It Looked Like Inside I-94 Pileup

Posted at 2:19 PM, Jan 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-24 15:08:53-05
janele ellis pileup 1

Courtesy: Janele Ellis, pileup survivor

LAPORTE COUNTY, Ind. – Photos from FOX 17 News viewers reveal an up-close look at the wreckage from the deadly I-94 pileup in northwest Indiana that killed three people including a couple from Grand Rapids.

janele ellis 2 pileupJanele Ellis of Kent County was hospitalized during Thursday afternoon’s chain-reaction crash.  She posted pictures on her social media accounts.

On Instagram Friday she said, “Cars can be replaced. Lives cannot. I can’t explain how thankful I am. We have bruises cuts breaks and injuries but we also have our lives. My heart goes out to the other 45 cars involved and especially to the families of the deceased, it easily could have been one of us. We had an angel with us I know because that semi should have killed us. But by the grace and mercy of God we lived. Thank you to everyone who has been here for us and keep the ones still in the hospital in your prayers!”  Ellis was hospitalized Thursday but was discharged.  Her friend remains in the hospital with a punctured lung, said Ellis.

janelle ellis 3 pileup

Courtesy: Janele Ellis, Grand Rapids

Three people died in the pileup Thursday afternoon near Michigan City, Indiana including two people from Grand Rapids.  Thomas Wolma, 67, and his wife, Marilyn, 65, died.  WLS-TV reports that the couple was heading back to Grand Rapids after caring for a loved one in Wisconsin.  A third man from Chicago, along with his dog were also killed.

“We’re lucky there weren’t 20 people dead,” said the Coolspring Township fire chief. His crews were first to arrive on the scene. “This will live with us forever,” he said.

Within the devastation, five or six people had to be extricated from their vehicles. “It was hard to prioritize who to extricate first,” said the chief.

When asked about highway conditions at the time of the pileup, an official from the Indiana Department of Transportation said there was a “full callout” on salt and plow crews in effect on I-94, and crews had gone through the area already.


Janele Ellis, Grand Rapids, survived crash

The crash scene stretched about a mile, said one official.

It took about three hours to extricate one victim, because he was in the middle of a pocket of vehicles that meant several vehicles had to be pulled away before crews could get to him.

If you were involved in the pileup, or have pictures, we would like to talk to you.  Please email us at or call us at 616-364-1717.