Long traffic backups reported Friday after multiple vehicle pileups on I-70

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
As a snowstorm forced its way into West Central Missouri late in the morning of Friday, Feb. 15, and whiteout conditions caused a pair of multiple vehicle crashes. This resulted in Interstate 70 being closed for up to six hours near Concordia (shown above) and Oak Grove.
Contributed image/Aaron Helton

Missouri transportation officials shut down parts of Interstate 70 after several semi-trucks and passenger vehicles were involved two major pileup crashes on Friday, Feb. 15.

One crash happened around noon in the westbound lanes of I-70 at mile marker 58 near Concordia. At the time, heavy snow was falling and combining with strong winds, causing near whiteout conditions. Drivers reported the interstate was slick and travel was treacherous.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that 20 vehicles were involved in this crash, and images captured at the scene show at least six semi-trucks involved. Two people were reported injured in the crash, but their conditions were unknown at the time of publication.

Another crash occurred around the same time on westbound I-70 at mile marker 29 near Oak Grove. This crash involved approximately 40 vehicles. MSHP reports that at least one person has died.

All westbound lanes of the interstate were closed at both crash scenes with delays estimated by the MSHP to be as long as six hours.

By 6 p.m. on Friday, crews were still working to clear the highway. However, the eastbound lanes had reopened and one westbound lane had reopened.

Crews had to move barrels off the road, which came off of a vehicle during the crash.

Collin Stosberg with MSHP said the concern following the crash and cleanup was freezing conditions.

The city of Concordia opened the Concordia Community Center as a warming center for stranded motorists. Rooms at Blitz Hall, a hotel and conference center on the Saint Paul Lutheran High School campus, were also available.

“We offered rooms and services at no charge for those who were stranded in town as a result of the crash and road closures,” Rosalie Pennington, guest services coordinator at SPLHS, said. “People were having to wait on someone to come and pick them up. Their cars were certainly in no shape to be driven.”

The National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill is forecasting that moderate to heavy snow would return to the area around sunset on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and last through Wednesday morning, Feb. 20. Overall, 2-7 inches of snow is expected across the area, with the higher totals closer to the Iowa and Missouri border. The NWS advises drivers to expect hazardous road conditions overnight Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon.

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