7 people killed in massive vehicle pile-up along Louisiana’s I-55

Published 10:22 pm Monday, October 23, 2023

At least seven people were killed and 25 others injured in a slew of crashes involving 158 vehicles along Interstate 55. According to Louisiana State Police, many victims sought medical assistance on their own.

The crash happened Monday morning on Interstate 55 near milepost 22 in St. John the Baptist Parish. Three 18-wheelers were involved in the accident and at least two were fully engulfed in flames, authorities said.

Meteorologists earlier said “super fog” had heavily impacted the area around the time of the pileups. The thick fog that enveloped the area was a result of a combination of marsh fires emitting smoke in the region and the formation of dense fog, leading to extremely low visibility.

Traffic backed up for miles in both directions on I-55. The lack of visibility also prompted closures of parts of I-10 and the 24-mile (39-kilometer) Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at times.

One of the vehicles involved in the wrecks was a tanker truck carrying “hazardous liquid,” police said. Police were working Monday evening to move the truck due to a “compromised tank/trailer.”

“Once the tanker is removed, first responders will be able to better assess the vehicles in that immediate area. It is possible that additional fatalities could be located,” state police said.

According to authorities, the removal of vehicles will take additional time. Following the clean-up of the interstate, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will inspect the bridge for any deficiencies. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, regarding the crash early Monday evening, urging citizens in affected areas to exercise caution while traveling.

“I also want to thank the first responders and medical personnel who have worked so diligently to save lives and render aid,” Edwards said. “The best way you can help them, besides exercising caution on the road, is to donate blood at your local blood donation center. It will help replenish supplies that are being drained today to care for the wounded.”

Louisiana State Police asks any witnesses or anyone missing a family member who was traveling through the area this morning to contact Troop B at (504) 471-2775. 

“We will continue to update the public as the investigation progresses,” said state police. “All updates will also be posted to the Louisiana State Police Facebook page.”

The National Weather Service has issued a Dense Fog Advisory for the area on Tuesday from 3:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools Facebook page released a statement on Monday evening with an updated bus schedule.

“Due to expected hazardous driving conditions in the morning, all St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools’ sites will follow a 3 hour delayed start,” said the post. “We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause, but as always the safety of our students, their families and our employees remain our top priority.”

Private schools in the area are also pushing back their start times.