WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Approximately 60 vehicles were involved in a massive, chain-reaction crash in Washington County as snow fell Monday, March 13th.
According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, around 10:45 a.m., a chain-reaction, multiple-vehicle crash happened on I-41 between Sherman Road and Hillside Road in the Town of Polk.
There were approximately 30 vehicles directly involved in the crash -- including eight semis, three heavy trucks (such as dump trucks and box-cargo trucks) and at least 12 passenger vehicles.
Additionally, there were 30 vehicles that wound up leaving the roadway as a result of the initial chain-reaction crash.
These vehicles weren't damaged. They were removed from the ditch and allowed to continue.
I-41SB was CLOSED for more than six hours.
Sheriff's officials said it may take several weeks to conclude this investigation.
Remaining at the scene of the incident as of 8:15 p.m. Monday are four tractor trailer rigs for later removal when the weather and road conditions permit.
All other units were removed with the collection of damaged vehicles being taken to a nearby truck stop for further investigation and collection of information.
There were five people transported to area hospitals, all with non-life threatening injuries.
Sheriff's officials said this incident may have been a result of another multi-unit crash backup that was being handled by the State Patrol just south of this scene.
Contributing to all of these incidents, Sheriff's officials said, was drivers driving too fast on the snow covered roads -- and whiteout conditions.
Officials responded to 97 crash related calls involving an estimated 300 units between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. in Washington County.
"It was like 'boom,' it was blizzard, like whiteout conditions, and the next thing I know, there was a semi that's sideways in the road and I just couldn't stop. I wasn't going that fast. It was like a chain reaction and I hit the car in front of me on my right side, and all of a sudden cars kept hitting me in back and I kept spinning around and it was quite scary," Heather Livingston said.
"We went down into the ditch. I barely caught a semi with my back bumper. I got out and a semi came at me sideways. I screamed and ran out of the way. I didn't get hit so..." Dave Bourdo said.
Anthony Dvorak nearly missed the crash.
"I'm flying into the ditch, not seeing where I'm going at all and I miss all the cars and I pop up on the other side of the vehicles into oncoming traffic and then I sat there for a moment and looked over at the other side of the interstate and I just seen so many more cars crashing and rear ending each other," Dvorak said.
Another driver said he didn't head to the ditch. He instead maneuvered his vehicle in between two semis.
There were so many victims, deputies set up a processing center inside the Travel Plaza, where they matched victims with their vehicles.
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.