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Fatal I-94 pileup in Van Buren Co.: Driver reaction

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VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - At least one person is dead, three others are in critical condition after multiple wrecks and a huge pileup along I-94 in Van Buren County Sunday.

A portion of the highway was shut down for hours. Newschannel 3's Nicky Zizaza is live along I-94.

The mess we saw earlier has been cleared up. Traffic is moving again but the people involved in the crash that shut down this highway tell me the nightmare isn't over.

A domino-style chain reaction of collisions triggered by whiteout conditions took Kelly Love by surprise. She says, "Out of nowhere I was hit by a semi-truck which caused me to kind of spin out land in a ditch. My husband, I guess he caught the semi-truck's tail end. I mean it was crazy."

Love says cars were mangled and other vehicles were crushed between jackknifed semi-trailers. "When it is foggy out, most people tend to slow down, drive very careful. In this case it didn't seem like that semi-truck had that intention," she says.

Police say as many as 50 vehicles and nearly a dozen semis were involved in a massive pileup, shutting down eastbound I-94 near Hartford.

Michigan State Police Lt. Melinda Logan says, "We ended up with a 44-car crash right behind the first crash that involved 6six semis and 38 vehicles. We do believe there will be fatalities in that car crash."

Troopers say heavy snow, high speed and reduced visibility are to blame for the wrecks. Logan says, "I saw vehicles traveling with only one-vehicle distance between the cars at speeds of 70 miles per hour in this type of weather in low visibility. You need to give yourself distance -- and a large amount of distance."

Despite the unfortunate ordeal Love says she is grateful she walked away unhurt: "I'm very thankful we walked out of this accident without a scratch. Literally if anything went differently, both of us could be dead."

State police tell Newschannel 3 the highway reopened at 8 p.m. Buses from Hartford Public Schools were on hand to transport crash victims to a nearby church for safety. The Red Cross also provided aid for victims.

In an earlier report, troopers said two people had died, but now say there was one fatality and three people in critical condition.