By Brandi Makuski
Three people were sent to area hospitals following a series of crashes that closed I-39 for over an hour on Friday.
According to Lt. Tracey Aldrich from the Stevens Point Fire Department, emergency crews were first called to northbound lanes of I-39 just north of the County Hwy. HH ramp shortly after 6 p.m.
“We had three cars that crashed into each other,” Aldrich said. “The fourth car was thrown on to its roof and located about 100 feet north of that impact.”
Aldrich said while crews were assessing that accident scene, some motorists in the southbound lanes began to slow to watch the scene as they passed, causing additional accidents on the other side of the median.
“People were distracted and caused four more accidents, all right in front of us,” he added. “So that was eight more patients; I knew we’d need additional resources.”
Based on the number of vehicles involved, Aldrich said he called in all the help he could. Fire and medic units from the city were joined by crews from Plover, Hull, Park Ridge, Amherst, and United Emergency Medical Response from Wisconsin Rapids.
The Portage Co. TIMS (Traffic Incident Management) team was also called in to help keep the scene secure, which Aldrich said included closing down multiple on-ramps throughout the city. Law enforcement units from multiple agencies were also on the scene to assist.
As a precaution, ambulances from Mosinee and Iola were requested but were later canceled.
One patient suffering multiple fractures and some paralysis was airlifted for medical treatment.
Aldrich said there were no human fatalities, but a motorist’s dog died in the first set of crashes.
Crews cleared the scene at about 7:30 p.m., he said.