Near zero visibility conditions were blamed for a series of chain reactions leading to a multi-car accident on Interstate 35 this morning near the Hamilton and Wright county border.
The Iowa State Patrol reported that at least 25 vehicles were involved in the crash and two people are confirmed to be dead. Seven others were injured in the accident, officials said. Troopers were continuing to investigate the scene late Thursday afternoon which involved semis and passenger vehicles in the southbound lanes of Interstate 35 near the 150-mile marker. No information as to the identity of those killed in the crash or conditions of the injured victims were available at press time.
Many of the injured were taken to Van Diest Medical Center, according to hospital officials. Eight patients were treated and three remain hospitalized. One victim later died of injuries, according to Lori Foster, VDMC public relations director.
This photo provided by the Iowa State Patrol shows the scene of a 25-vehicle pileup that killed two people Thursday on Interstate 35 near the Hamilton County-Wright County line. Authorities said drivers were blinded by blowing snow and didn’t see vehicles that had slowed or stopped. A chain reaction of crashes involving semitrailers and passenger cars closed down a section of the highway.
The interstate was closed late Thursday due to the crash and deteriorating road conditions and visibility. The National Weather Service extended the blizzard warning Thursday night - originally scheduled to expire at 6 p.m. - until 9 p.m.
Roadways across Iowa remain impassable due to snow and ice covered roads, reduced visibility from blowing snow, or wreckage in the road from various multiple vehicle crashes, according to officials with the Iowa State Patrol. Motorists are urged to avoid travel on Iowa's highways and interstates at all costs.
Visibility in northern Iowa and along many other rural roadways is near zero.
"It's time to listen to warnings and get off the road. Iowa's highways and interstates remain in poor condition for travel," Colonel David Garrison of the Iowa State Patrol said in a statement.
"Troopers will continue to assist motorists who become stranded in this dangerous weather. But your safest bet is to avoid travel altogether. If you don't travel, you can't become stranded," he said.