‘It’s been a little crazy!’ 2 crashes in as many days shut down Milwaukee Co. freeways for hours

Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- Two major crashes happened on Milwaukee County's two major interchanges within just 12 hours. Traffic was tied up on I-41/45 near Mayfair in the Zoo Interchange during the evening rush on Tuesday, July 17, and on I-43 near National in the Marquette Interchange during the morning rush on Wednesday, July 18.

"It's been, quite frankly, a little crazy," said Richard Schmidt, acting Milwaukee County sheriff.

Sheriff's officials said around 3 a.m. Wednesday, there was a crash involving a car and a truck on I-43 northbound. When first responders arrived, both vehicles were fully engulfed in flames. The car was headed northbound through the Marquette Interchange, and the truck was traveling from the east to the north, crossing to the barreled-off construction area on I-43. The car struck the back of the truck, sparking the fire.

"A vehicle comes up, clips the end of this truck and now we have a horrific, fiery crash that takes place," said Sheriff Schmidt.

There were concerns that there was a dangerous chemical in the truck, but it turned out to be less dangerous highway primer.

Chemical truck fire shuts down I-43 NB at National Avenue

Chemical truck fire shuts down I-43 NB at National Avenue

No one was hurt. The scene was cleared by 9:30 a.m. -- more than six hours later.

Late Tuesday afternoon, around 4:30 p.m., sheriff's officials say a semi rolled over in the northbound lanes of I-41/45 near Mayfair, after striking the vehicle in front of it when the semi driver was unable to stop when traffic suddenly slowed.

Semi rollover on I-41 northbound near Mayfair

Semi rollover on I-41 northbound near Mayfair

The semi veered left, struck the median wall and crossed all lanes of traffic before flipping on its side. The vehicle in front of it struck two other vehicles. First responders worried natural gas leaking from the truck could get scary.

The driver of the semi suffered a minor arm injury, and the driver of one of the cars that was struck was taken to the hospital with back, neck and shoulder pain.

The semi's driver was cited as a result of the crash.

"Following too close, going way fast, runs into the wall, flips over -- 70,000 pounds of scrap metal inside of it -- that takes a long time to clean up," said Sheriff Schmidt.

I-41 northbound was closed for six hours, reopening around 10:30 p.m. after closing shortly before 4:30 p.m. I-43 was also shut down for nearly six hours Wednesday morning after the crash there -- closing moments before 3 a.m. and reopening shortly before 9:30 a.m.

"We've had two very, very serious incidents that took place that caused a massive amount of shutdowns on the freeway system. Safety has to come first," said Sheriff Schmidt.

Thankfully, there were no major injuries in both cases.

"People have to slow down. They've got to pay attention," said Sheriff Schmidt.