The fury of Mother Nature dealt a powerful blow to the people of the Upper Midwest over the weekend. Recently released 911 calls detail the fear and confusion of motorists that got caught up in a massive 131-car pileup in Wisconsin.
Sunday’s chain reaction accident occurred on Interstate 41 in Neenah, Wisconsin. According to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, 131 vehicles were involved in the collision. One person lost their life as a result of the crash and 71 others had to be transported to local hospitals with a variety of injuries. 30-year-old science teacher Andrew Schefelke was the lone fatality of the pileup.
The sheriff’s office released the 911 calls that they fielded as more and more people began calling in to report what was happening. In the background of the calls, listeners can often hear the audible crunching noises as more cars are unable to avoid colliding with the stranded vehicles in their path. There are also a series of terrifying screams that can be heard on the call.
One caller is heard explaining to the dispatcher that the crash was caused because of poor visibility. The caller is visibly shaken as she talks about how cars continue to crash into her parked vehicle. The dispatcher instructs the caller to stay in the vehicle with seat belts fastened and hazard lights activated.
The interstate did not reopen until 3 am on Monday as a result of the investigation and clean-up. It took responders two hours to stabilize the area and route approximately 500 vehicles that got stuck behind the pileup.
It was an extremely busy day for dispatchers in Winnebago County. Authorities said that they handled 772 weather-related 911 emergency calls between 11:05 am and 6:30 pm on Sunday.
In what has been a brutal winter for much of the country, many weary Americans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring.