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30-vehicle pileup in Ind. injures 10; elephants OK

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 9:20 p.m.
A pileup involving more than 30 vehicles closed Interstate 70 in Plainfield, Ind., in both directions for most of the evening on Thursday, Jan. 31. AP

PLAINFIELD, Ind. — A more than 30-vehicle pileup on a snowy Indiana interstate left at least 10 people injured on Thursday, including at least one critically, and shut down a heavily traveled highway for most of the evening, authorities said.

Most of the injuries in the afternoon pileup along Interstate 70 were minor, but one victim's condition was “very critical,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers said.

Semitrailers sat smashed side-by-side against one another along the stretch about 20 miles west of Indianapolis, with cars and other smaller vehicles pushed to the sides of the roadway. About 20 big rigs and about 15 passenger vehicles were involved in the pileup, state police Capt. Dave Bursten said.

Several motorists blinded by a snow squall crashed into stalled traffic on the slick road, police said.

“We believe weather was a factor,” Bursten said. Snow was falling at the time of the crash, and whiteout conditions were possible, along with slick roads, according to the National Weather Service.

The main crash happened at the interstate's 65-mile marker, but there was a second crash involving at least two jackknifed semitrailer rigs nearby, Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Debbie Calder said.

At one point, three elephants had to be off-loaded from a vehicle involved in the pileup until the vehicle was righted on the highway, then reloaded for the resumption of their journey, Bursten said. He had no other details on the pachyderms.

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