2 children, 1 adult die in Detroit freeway pileups

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 12:08 pm | Updated: 1:53 pm, Thu Jan 31, 2013.

DETROIT (AP) -- Police say one adult and two children have been killed and about others 20 injured in a massive freeway crash in Detroit involving at least two dozen vehicles in icy, snowy conditions.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw says the deaths and injuries happened in a chain-reaction crash Thursday morning on a mile-long stretch of Interstate 75 on the southwest side of the city. Shaw says the injured, including children, have been taken to hospitals.

Witnesses describe white-out conditions and slippery roads leading to the crash.

Shaw says many people had to be pulled out of vehicles.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Snow squalls, high winds and slippery roads led to a chain-reaction of crashes on a mile-long stretch of an interstate in Detroit Thursday, leaving at least three people dead and 20 injured.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said visibility was poor when the mass of crashes happened on Interstate 75 on the southwest side of the city. The injured, including children, have been taken to hospitals, 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.

Motorists and passengers who were able to a get 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.

"We're not sure of the cause," Shaw told The Associated Press. "Some witnesses said there were white-out conditions."

More than two dozen vehicles were involved in the pileups and scores of cars and trucks not involved in crashes were stuck on the freeway behind. Shaw said it could be hours before the freeway reopened.

Greg Galuszka was driving a fuel truck along I-75 when white-out conditions quickly materialized.

"I looked on my driver's side mirror, and I could see the trucks piling up back there," Galuszka said, pointing to a mass of twisted metal where vehicles had smashed into each other a short time earlier.

"Then, when I looked in my passenger side (mirror), is when I saw the steel hauler coming up," he said. "I just said my prayers from there and said, `Please don't hit me.'"

Shaw said many people had to be pulled from their vehicles. Numerous fire engines and ambulances were at the scene.

The crash happened as a wave of snow and strong blustery winds reduced visibility across southeastern Michigan, said Bryan Tilley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oakland County's White Lake Township.

"There was a pattern of snow showers moving through the area in the midmorning hours," Tilley said. Nearby Detroit Metropolitan Airport had west winds at 20 miles per hour, with gusts to 33 mph around the time of the crash. The temperature of 24 degrees was about 30 degrees colder than a day before.

The crash happened near an elevated stretch of expressway where the road surface can cool quickly and make driving hazardous, Tilley said.

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