Four people were taken to an area hospital Thursday afternoon follow a wreck on Interstate 75 that involved 10 vehicles.
Goldbug Fire Chief Brandon Woods said the four people, whose names have not yet been released, came from two vehicles, a Chevrolet Tahoe and a Buick sedan.
Goldbug firefighters used the Jaws-of-Life to extricate the driver and a passenger from the Tahoe.
“The people in the Buick were able to self extricate,” Woods said with surprise, noting the Buick was, far the most seriously damage of all of the vehicles involved.
Police are continuing to investigate the wreck that occurred about 4:30 p.m. near the 18-mile marker on southbound I-75.
Gordon Keenan of Ontario, Canada, who was not involved in the wreck, said he was just behind the scene of the initial collision involving a UPS tractor-trailer truck and a Saturn SUV.
According to Keenan, the driver the SUV told him that her vehicle began to hydroplane in the heavy rain when she stepped on the brakes to avoid a motorcycle she had come upon.
When traffic began slowing, another car rear-ended the UPS truck and more vehicles began slowing down and stopping to avoid the carnage in front of them.
Daryl Minton of Willoughby, Ohio, came to a stop behind the Buick.
“Everyone started slowing down when the gray SUV (the Tahoe) came flying down the middle of the road and hit the Buick,” Minton said. “He had to be doing at least 60 miles per hour.”
When the Buick and the Tahoe collided, they struck the back of a tanker truck.
Woods said the tanker was used to haul liquid nitrogen.
“The placards showing that he was hauling the liquid nitrogen were turned around, showing he was loaded, but we checked with the driver and the tanker was empty,” Woods said of the truck, noting it could have made a bad situation worse if the truck was loaded and the tanker had been ruptured.
While nitrogen is not flammable, the website about.com’s chemistry section states that liquid nitrogen may cause frostbite if it comes into contact with living tissue and may cause asphyxiation as its exposure to air as it reduces the relative amount of oxygen in the immediate area.
The interstate was reopened to traffic about 6:45 p.m.
Kentucky State Police, Whitley County Sheriff’s deputies, KSP Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Goldbug, Oak Grove, Woodbine, Williamsburg and Corbin fire departments, Whitley and Knox EMS and North Regional EMS from Jellico, Tenn. all assisted at the scene.