Six people have now been confirmed dead and 65 others injured following a 133 car pile-up on a Texas freeway Thursday morning.
The tragedy occurred along Interstate 35 near Fort Worth shortly after 6am, with shocking video showing a FedEx truck plowing into a barrier after losing control on an icy downhill stretch of road.
Dozens of vehicles travelling behind the truck subsequently smashed into one another, with the crash site stretching back for 1.5 miles.
First responders described the scene as a ‘mass casualty incident’ with crushed cars stacked on top of one another and helpless drivers stuck inside.
The death toll was initially reported at five, before officials confirmed a sixth fatality on Thursday evening. The names of the victims have not yet been released.
Investigators confirmed that 36 of the 65 people who were injured were taken to local hospitals via ambulance.
One Medstar official said no children were among the deceased or seriously injured.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is now underway, with local politicians now questioning whether the roads were properly prepared for the wet and slippery conditions that had been forecast.
Winter Storm Shirley, which is wreaking havoc on many southern states, brought freezing temperatures to the area overnight Thursday, making the roads unusually icy.
Six people have now been confirmed dead and 65 others injured following a 133 car pile-up on a Texas freeway Thursday morning
First responders described the scene as a ‘mass casualty incident’ with crushed cars stacked on top of one another and helpless drivers stuck inside
The tragedy occurred along Interstate 35 near Fort Worth shortly after 6am, with shocking video showing a FedEx truck plowing into a barrier after losing control on an icy downhill stretch of road
Investigators confirmed that 36 of the 65 people who were injured were taken to local hospitals via ambulance
‘I’ve got lots of good friends that are both on the police department and fire department and I asked them to tell me what they saw there… We can’t see evidence of any protection of deicing techniques that were performed,’ Fort Worth state Rep. Ramon Romero told
Romero told the news network he plans to hold a hearing to question North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners – the company that maintains the stretch of privately operated freeway where the crash occurred.
In a statement the company told NBC 5: ‘Our crews treat the entire corridor, managed lanes, general purpose lanes, frontage roads and ramps, and operate under the same procedure as the Texas Department of Transportation. Additionally, our message boards throughout the corridors have been alerting drivers of the adverse weather conditions and encouraging them to drive with caution.’
One first responder told NBC 5 that stretch of road ‘was solid ice when police and firefighters first arrived.’
Rescue workers were allegedly slipping on the ice as they attempted to reach victims inside their cars. Some had to lay salt and sand over the road in order to mitigate the slippery conditions.
A crumbled car is seen being towed away from the crash site on Thursday afternoon. The scene took hours to clear
A crane is seen lifting out a damaged truck from the pile-up on Thursday afternoon
The scene appeared almost too much to bear for one rescue worker as they walked away from a destroyed vehicle
One driver who was caught up in the crash also remarked on the icy conditions.
‘All of a sudden there’s ice, and everybody’s wrecking,’ Michael Howard, told CBS 11 News.
‘You don’t see the ice, ’til you feel it… You can’t stop, so I steered off into that wall… then the people behind me just bam, bam, bam, bam’.
Late on Thursday, Forth Worth Mayor Besty Price released a statement saying ‘heart is broken’ over the tragedy.
‘So many people have lost their loved ones or had them injured and that pain is just incredible, this whole community will feel that pain,’ she stated.
Meanwhile, there were emotional scenes at the crash site, as one couple drove to the area in search of their son, Blake, who they believed had been caught in the pile-up.
‘When he [Blake] left home this morning, I had a bad feeling. I don’t know why,’ mom Joni Diebel told NBC 5 as she waited for news of her son.
The pair were finally able to make contact via cellphone, before Joni broke down as she came face-to-face with young Blake, who miraculously managed to escape the scene uninjured.
‘It was the worst, helpless feeling ever,’ she sobbed.
, there were emotional scenes at the crash site, as one couple drove to the area in search of their son, Blake, who they believed had been caught in the pile-up
The pair were finally able to make contact via cellphone, before Joni broke down as she came face-to-face with her son, which miraculously managed to escape the scene uninjured
Emergency services used cranes to remove some of the cars from one another. Many were trapped in their vehicles
A huge truck that was flipped almost onto its side in the pile up. It pressed other, smaller vehicles up against the freeway barrier
Firefighters rescued several dogs from the wreckage on Thursday afternoon. It’s unclear if any animals died
Overnight, Winter Storm Shirley dumped sleet and froze roads across southern states, including Texas.
In another incident, 26 cars crashed into each other in Austin.
More than 1,200 flights across states have been canceled as a result of the storm.
It brought snow and ice to Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee, causing multiple road accidents.
There were 20 weather-related crashes in Louisville, Kentucky, frozen bridges in Memphis and freezing rain and snow in Indiana.
Firefighters were still making their way through vehicles on Thursday afternoon trying to find survivors
The FedEx truck that was filmed at the start of the crash after losing control and plowing into one of the barriers
A huge Coca Cola trucker mixed among smaller vehicles in the pile up. The smaller cars were obliterated
18-wheelers landed on top of smaller vehicles. There are many vehicles still on the road
Vehicles are piled up after a fatal crash on Interstate 35 near Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday
The fire department tweeted it on Thursday while firefighters went from car to car trying to rescue people trapped inside