Ice and fog touched off a chain reaction crash on Highway 11 between Sioux Falls and Canton early Monday morning making the tiny town of Shindler look like the site of a demolition derby.
One car ended up wedged against a tree while others hit the ditch on both sides of the road.
"This morning we had freezing fog. The roadways were iced over and the fog was still pretty thick at the time of the crash,” South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Hogan said.
It all started at about 5:45 a.m. Monday when two cars collided. Before it was over, six more vehicles drove up out of the fog and into trouble.
Hogan says the combination of ice and fog was particularly dangerous. Even though no one was hurt, Hogan says this crash stands out as one of the worst of the season so far.
"This is the biggest one that I've investigated this winter,” Hogan said. “But there were several crashes Sunday that other troopers responded to, so it's been a busy couple of days."
It's been a busy couple of days for tow-truck operators as well, pulling car after car out of the ditch.
Hogan says drivers may have been lulled into a false sense of security by the lack of snow.
"When the temperatures drop below freezing and then come back up the roads freeze over, thaw and freeze over, so they just need to be aware that it can be happening," Hogan said.
And the only way to avoid a chain-reaction crash like the one Monday morning near Shindler is to slow down and allow more room between vehicles. Hogan says that will be especially important as the next round of winter weather moves in this week.
“The roads are thawing now so the conditions are a lot better than they were this morning, but as nightfall comes and the temperatures drop the roads will be freezing over again so people need to slow down," Hogan said.
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