Three separate pileups on Thanksgiving morning involving a total of up to 150 vehicles along the same stretch of fog-bound Interstate 10 in southeast Texas left two dead and as many as 100 injured, authorities said.
It was one of the busiest driving times on one of the highest-traffic days of the year, said Deputy Rod Carroll of the Jefferson County Sheriff's office. Heavy fog and high speeds probably caused the pileups to begin — in both directions — about 8:45 a.m. just west of Beaumont.
"Driving out there, I couldn't see 10 feet in front of my car," Carroll told the Los Angeles Times. "I still had people trying to pass me and I had headlights and sirens on."
He said two people died when their 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe crashed into the cars in front of them, and then a semitrailer truck rammed them from behind and ran over their vehicle. The Texas Department of Public Safety later identified the two as Vincent Leggio, 64, and Debra Leggio, 60, of Pearland, Texas.
Televised images from the scene showed pile after pile of vehicles, including shredded FedEx trailers and semitrailer trucks that rammed into smaller vehicles. Officials were still tallying the damage late Thursday night.
"It was definitely a chain-reaction accident," Carroll said of the wrecks that sent up to 100 people to five area hospitals. Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Stephanie Davis said five to eight people remained in critical condition as of Thursday evening.
The highway was back to normal by Thursday night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. The westbound lanes were reopened within a few hours of the pileups, but eastbound Interstate 10 had to be cleared of debris from the semitrailer trucks.