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Blame Game Begins, As Investigators Probe Cause Of I-94 Wreck

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – The State of Indiana says investigating this week’s fatal pileup on Interstate 94 will take weeks, if not months.

But a state police spokesman tells CBS 2 he believes people were simply driving too fast for conditions.

And he brushes aside the suggestion that I-94 should have been shut down, like I-65 was two weeks ago, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

Among the questions: Why did a one- or two-truck crash escalate into a major pileup of 46 vehicles? Were people driving too fast for conditions? Were conditions simply too bad to drive at all?

And what about all those semis, which ended up in a tangled mess at the front of the pile?

“An 80,000-pound tractor-trailer barreling down the interstate over ice and snow is a recipe for disaster,” attorney Kenneth Allen says.

He blames out-of-control truckers for violating federal harzardous-condition regulations governing when drivers must reduce speed and or curb their vehicles entirely.

The American Trucking Association counters: “A majority of the time it’s an action by a passenger vehicle that precipitates an event.”

The Indiana State Police aren’t taking sides.

“Some drivers driving responsibly; other drivers, driving irresponsibly — and it’s those irresponsible drivers that create the circumstance for the crash,” Indiana State Police Capt. Dave Bursten says.

Conditions were dangerous. Subzero temperatures, wind and whiteout conditions resulted in numerous crashes and slide-offs.

Those kinds of factors prompted authorities to shut down nearby I-65 two weeks ago, stranding motorists.

Bursten, who spoke to CBS 2 from Indianapolis, said he doesn’t know whether shutting down I-94 yesterday was even discussed.

“We don’t have a crystal ball, we cant predict when snow squalls are going to occur. We can’t predict how people are going to drive and how they’re going to react.”

As for the driver-trucker debate, the pictures of all the trucks at the front of the pile — and 911 calls — seem to indicate collisions between semi-trucks initiated the chain-reaction crash.

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