Witness recalls I-80 chain reaction crash injuring 32 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Witness recalls I-80 chain reaction crash injuring 32

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A Williamsburg woman says the aftermath of a chain reaction crash on Interstate 80 Friday, was surreal.

The Iowa State Patrol says charges are pending in the huge crash that sent 32 people to the hospital.

Sgt. Nate Ludwig with Iowa State Patrol tells KWWL the crashes were a result of a semi truck on fire - halting traffic on westbound I-80, around 3 p.m for hours.

Shortly after the semi fire, another semi driven by 59-year-old Fedir K. Maftei of Portland, Oregon, started the chain reaction crashes.

Ludwig says the crashes happened between exits 216 and 211, about two miles west of Williamsburg.

Maftei's semi rear-ended a Boone woman's SUV, according to Ludwig.

Lugwig says the SUV was driven by 29-year-old Andrea Lee Haglund, causing three other vehicles to collide, including a tour bus carrying Ryan Company employees.

Marc Gullickson, president of Ryan Companies Iowa offices says 26 of their employees were taken to the hospital.

"We don't know the full extent of their injuries, but are hopeful regarding their full recovery," said Gullickson.

He says 22 employees have been discharged, but four were still hospitalized as of Saturday afternoon.

"I've never seen anything like that in person," said Stephanie Gramlich, who passed the fiery crash on I-80. "It was kinda a scary scene, we knew it was pretty serious."

Gramlich says the smoke was so thick she could see it for miles.

"Very black, very dark," said Gramlich. "I got a little closer and then realized there was actually a car underneath the tour bus and then you could see the tour bus and then you could see the semi down in the ditch. It was on fire."

Gramlich was on her way home from work when she was stuck on the interstate for hours, so she started taking pictures and videos. She says the scene was so disheartening she thought the worst.

"Wondering if like a whole bunch or lives were lost, I mean all I saw was a bus," said Gramlich. "There was nothing left of it it was burnt to a crisp. There was nothing to it, you could just see the outside was completely black. The car underneath was totally smashed."

Twelve of the 32 injured were being treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, with injuries ranging from mild to critical, as of Friday evening. 

Two patients' being treated at UIHC had critical injuries and were in intensive care.

The remaining 20  patients injured in the crash were taken to Marengo Memorial Hospital and Mercy Hospital, Iowa City.

As of Saturday night, some of those injured have been released and are back home.

"It was tragic, it was tragic, it was horrible," said Gramlich.

Ludwig says charges are pending in the crash, however the details of those charges are not yet known.

The Iowa State Patrol is still investigating the crash.

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