100 vehicles involved in deadly chain of accidents on I-41, Washington County Sheriff investigation finds

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SLINGER, Wis (CBS 58) -- Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis said his follow-up investigation into a deadly pileup on I-41 found there were 100 total vehicles involved in about 20 accidents over an 18-mile stretch of the interstate.

Shulteis said the lack of a central location for the chain reaction of accidents made it even more difficult to handle from a public safety standpoint.

“Public safety was taxed pretty heavily yesterday," Schulteis said. "Our law enforcement partners, and our fire and EMS partners did just an outstanding job.”

Ralph's Towing employee Paul Williams said he worked for about five hours getting cars off I-41 Wednesday, April 21, in a situation he found could have resulted in more fatalities than one.

“It seemed like everybody did whatever they possibly could to avoid hitting anybody. But when you put that many vehicles in traffic in such a small area, it’s bound to happen," said Williams. "And unfortunately we did have one fatality, but I firmly believe it could have been a lot worse.”

Schulteis said there were three major accidents of the 20 total that involved the most vehicles, some involving semi trucks.

The first happened near I-41 and Highway D, one near I-41 and Cedar Creek Rd, and the third, which resulted in the death of a woman from Tennessee, happened near I-41 and Arthur Rd.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) said, if you find yourself behind a semi-truck spiraling out of control, do your best to avoid swerving.

WisDOT added cars were driving too fast for the conditions, and they were disappointed to see so many people take cellphone video of crashes from the road.

“It’s just mind boggling to me that somebody would take that level of risk just to get video. A couple of them were pretty scary to see behind the wheel.”

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