Whiteout conditions cause numerous crashes on Indiana roads

Cars and trucks rest in the median and west-bound lanes of U.S. 30 at the scene of a multi-vehicle crash just west of Columbia City, Ind., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Blowing snow fueled by wind gusts of more than 40 mph caused whiteout conditions across Indiana on Saturday, causing pileups involving more than a dozen vehicles and forcing the closure of highways in the north and east. (AP Photo/The Journal-Gazette, Samuel Hoffman)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Blowing snow fueled by wind gusts of more than 40 mph caused whiteout conditions across Indiana on Saturday, causing pileups including one that killed a child and forcing the closure of highways in the north and east.

“It’s pretty bad out there,” Sgt. Tony Slocum said. “The snow wasn’t deep. The roads were covered, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was visibility.”

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for seven northern Indiana counties and all but one of them warned drivers to stay off the roads. At least six other counties in northern Indiana issued travel watches, warning drivers against anything but essential travel. More than a dozen more counties issued travel advisories.

Police say a 7-year-old girl from Goshen was killed in a four-vehicle crash about 10:30 a.m. Saturday on U.S. 20 near Rolling Prairie, about 20 miles west of South Bend. The Lake County coroner’s office says Bridget Miller died of blunt force trauma.

In northeast Indiana, the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department reported 13 vehicles, including a Lakeland School Corp. bus taking students to a choir competition, were involved in a crash on I-69 southbound near the DeKalb County line. Seven injuries were reported, but no one on the school bus was hurt.

About 90 miles further south, I-69 was closed in both directions because of a multiple accidents near Gaston, about 10 miles northwest of Muncie. Northbound lanes were closed for more than three hours after the crash around noon, and southbound lanes remained closed. State police said no injuries were reported.

The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department said a crash involving 20 vehicles closed all lanes of U.S. 30 near Columbia City for several hours. There were numerous other accidents reported, including on the Indiana Toll Road.

The Toll Road banned some trucks because of the high winds.

The weather service reported wind gusts of 48 mph at South Bend Regional Airport and Goshen Municipal Airport, and 45 mph at Grissom Air Reserve Base and LaPorte.

The weather service warned that temperatures could get dangerously cold early Sunday.

Many events were cancelled Saturday, including some girls’ high school basketball sectional finals.

 

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