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2 children killed in mile full of wrecks in Detroit

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 9:46 p.m.
Authorities say conditions went from 'clear to total whiteout in a matter of seconds” just before a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 75 in Detroit, on Thursday, Jan. 31. AP

DETROIT — Blinding snow squalls, high wind and a slick highway led to a milelong series of crashes in the city that left at least three people dead on Thursday, including a 7-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said visibility was extremely poor when the mass of crashes happened on Interstate 75 on the southwest side of the city. At least 13 people were rushed to hospitals, and others were treated at the scene, Shaw said.

SUVs with smashed front ends and cars with doors hanging open sat scattered across the debris-littered highway, some crunched against jackknifed tractor-trailers and tankers. Rescue crews went vehicle to vehicle in the search for survivors and to provide aid. About 30 vehicles were involved in the morning accident.

Shaw said the two children who were killed are believed to be siblings, and their parents were hurt in the wreck. He said the boy died at the scene, and the girl died at a hospital.

Shaw said the family is believed to be from Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River in Canada. None of the victims' names has been released.

The pileups were along a stretch of busy freeway that cuts through a heavily industrialized part of the city and nearby communities. Semi-trailers and tankers dominate the interstate, some hauling loads and liquids to a nearby refinery and steel companies.

Motorists and passengers who were able to climb out of their vehicles huddled together on the side of the road, some visibly distraught, others looking dazed. A man and woman hugged under the gray, cloud-filled skies, a pair of suitcases next to them and a bumper on the ground behind.

Conditions went from “clear to total whiteout in a matter of seconds,” Shaw said. “All of a sudden, they couldn't see anymore.”

The bad weather also is being blamed for at least two other pileups in Michigan. U.S. 23 in Grand Blanc Township near Flint was closed after more than 20 vehicles crashed during a sudden snow squall. In southwest Michigan, eight tractor-trailers and six cars crashed on I-94, closing the westbound lanes to traffic at Paw Paw in Van Buren County.

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