‘It was pretty scary with vehicles hanging on the guardrail’ — Witness describes deadly I-94 pileup

Posted at 7:45 PM, Jan 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-09 19:45:10-05

KALAMZOO COUNTY, Mich. -- As crews continue to work through a massive pileup of more than 120 vehicles on I-94, a witness is speaking to FOX 17 about the moment he came upon the wreck.

Ed Oullette thought his day would be like any other: that he'd wake up, carry on with his morning routine and then head to work. But during his commute, while driving West on I-94 between Galesburg and Climax, traffic came to a sudden halt.

"You could just hear the other vehicles running into each other going westbound," Oullette said.

While recording the pileup and catching footage of a tractor-trailer bursting into flames, Oullette had no idea that on the other side of the highway where he sat in his car, danger was coming from behind.

"Everybody kind of stopped and was just kind of looking," Oullette said.  "Then the cars behind us just started piling on."

The pileup, which included between 50 and 60 tractor-trailers, covered both sides of the highway. Emergency crews shutdown a three mile radius while they battled the flames and pulled people to safety.

Then suddenly, the blaze wasn't the biggest concern. FOX 17 was recording when more than 40,000 lbs of fireworks exploded from a tractor-trailer.

One person is dead as a result of the pileup, according to state police. It's too early to tell how many others are hurt.

After about nine hours of working through the wreckage, tow trucks could be seen taking away burnt vehicles.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said while it's too early to tell exactly what caused the pileup, there's a few factors that could've played a role.

"The wind pushes straight on down I-94--so that has its own problems," Fuller said. "Sometimes it's ice because of that. Sometimes it's wind blown where you can't see the road."

Oullette said multiple drivers, who were uninjured, began getting out of their vehicles to help those in need.

"Myself and another gentlemen and another officer helped a gentleman over the median to get away and he had some injuries to his legs," Oullette said.

While Oullette did in fact make it to work, uninjured, he said his heart goes out to those who weren't as lucky.

"Driving upon it was pretty scary, with vehicles hanging on the guardrail and seeing some flames starting, it was concerning when you see people running-- that’s certainly a scary situation," Oullette said. "If I was even just a few cars behind me I would've been entangled in that."