Fiery Chain-Reaction Crash Kills 6 on Foggy Missouri Interstate

A stretch of Interstate 57 in Missouri was reopened Friday morning after the road was closed for much of Thursday due to foggy conditions that led to what authorities have called a "chain reaction" of accidents that left six people dead and several hospitalized.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said that all of I-57 was reopened by 5 a.m. Friday after the series of fiery crashes caused several closures Thursday. Officials have said that in the foggy conditions, an individual could have hit their brakes unexpectedly, and once one accident took place it likely caused a chain reaction of other accidents, according to KFVS-TV. Charleston Department of Public Safety Director Robert Hearnes estimated anywhere from 30-50 vehicles were involved in the series of crashes.

"When we got the call about 8 a.m., and as we approached the interstate, it was a very thick fog," Hearnes was quoted by KFVS. "You couldn't, visibility was less than 50 feet. And so the traffic had already backed up, but we had multiple, multiple accidents on both sides of the interstate."

Recent car accidents around the U.S. have led to fatalities in Texas, as well as on a Florida playground and outside a Washington, D.C., restaurant. In those incidents, though, weather did not play a role as it is believed to have done in the Missouri pile-up.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety said on Twitter that it received reports of visibility as low as 50 feet because of the foggy conditions Thursday morning. One truck driver at the scene of the crash told KFVS that the fog was so thick they couldn't see the car in front of them.

The names of those who died in the crash have not yet been released but are expected to be released on Friday. Five individuals were initially reported dead Thursday afternoon, and the coroner confirmed an additional death later Thursday night, the Associated Press reported.

"Notifying the families, we begin the process of positively identifying the remains we have in our care," Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker said Thursday, according to KFVS. "The towing services, the highway patrol reconstruction team, will now begin to start and try and figure out how the wreck happened, what started the wreck, and they've got hours and hours of reconstruction work to do."

Several local police and fire departments posted updates and summaries of the accident to social media as the accident scene was tended to by first responders from several nearby cities and towns. The Scott City Fire Department said it had firefighters responding to the scene for over six hours before returning home, and said that tow trucks from Missouri as well as from neighboring Illinois and Kentucky had responded to assist at the scene.

The county coroner said it was unlikely that more people will be added to the death toll, CNN reported.

The conditions of any of the drivers, passengers or first responders who were hospitalized has not been reported.

Update 3/18/22, 11:58 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.

Missouri Interstate 57 Foggy Accidents
On Thursday, a chain-reaction collision on Interstate 57 in Missouri involved dozens of vehicles. Above, this still image from WSIL-TV taken shows the aftermath of the collision in southeast Missouri, outside St. Louis. WSIL-TV via AP