People scrambled from their mangled cars and frantically tried to flag down approaching drivers as more than 100 cars and trucks crashed in a series of wrecks Monday on a foggy bridge over Mobile Bay.
One person was killed, six were critically injured and at least 74 were taken to the hospital.
“I was rear-ended by a truck, then a garbage truck just plowed through everybody,” said James Coleman, who escaped without injury in the cluster of rush-hour collisions on the Interstate 10 span.
Some three miles of the sevenmile bridge were strewn with blackened heaps of wreckage, some of them consisting of dozens of cars. Cars looked like “somebody had crushed a beer can,” said one witness, Ned Morris.
Fog is a frequent hazard on the bridge, which is a main commuter route and is often busy with vacation travelers.
Last August, a state highway consultant, in a preliminary report, listed the bridge as dangerous because of “sudden fog flareups,” said Transportation Department spokesman Ralph Holmes. He said the consultant recommended installing a $4.7 million to $6 million system under which computers would measure any fog and activate warning lights if necessary.
At the time of the accident, the proposal was still being studied.
State Trooper spokesman Sgt. Mike Boan said “one big wall of fog” had moved across the bridge early Monday, and “you could not see anything in front of you.”
The first collision occurred in the westbound lane about 6:45 a.m. As motorists slowed or got out to see what had happened, other cars and trucks entered the fog and rearended other vehicles.