Man Arrested In Connection With The One Fatality Pileup Near Laramie [PHOTOS]
A long stretch of Interstate 80 in southeast Wyoming remains closed this evening, following a large multi-vehicle crash about 20 miles west of Laramie that resulted in one known fatality. According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the closure is now expected to stretch into tomorrow and possibly longer.
One arrest has been made as a result the crash. A 45-year-old man, Alex Dragaytsev, from Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, has been arrested and charged with aggravated vehicular homicide. Mr. Dragaytsev has been taken to the Albany County Detention Center in Laramie.
A digital message sign 19 miles before the crash site had been advising westbound motorists of "Reduced Visibility, Black Ice and Reduce Speed" since 5:57 a.m. Monday morning.
A confirmed 59 vehicles were involved in the crash with the potential of another four to six more. Most of the vehicles involved are reported to be large, commercial trucks. The wreckage was scattered along the highway for a half mile or more, according to eyewitnesses.
At 5 p.m., only one fatality had been confirmed. Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie has reported its staff treated 16 people with injuries related to the pileup. Of those who were seen by the hospital, three were admitted to I.M.H. and one was transferred to University Hospital in Denver, Colorado.
Sergeant David Wagener with the Wyoming Highway Patrol reports that the crash response was hampered by fire which engulfed several of the vehicles. Firefighters needed several hours to extinguish the blazes.
“Because of the large fire that did ensue from the crash, that has kind of hampered investigation efforts,” says Wagener. “All of the fire crews that responded did an excellent job of responding and taking care of people that were injured and then also getting the fire under control.”
Wagener says that initial reports are that two commercial vehicles collided at approximately 8:00 a.m. today causing one of the trucks to jackknife in both lanes of I-80 westbound. After the jackknife, the chain reaction of crashes began as multiple westbound vehicles crashed into the jackknifed truck and each other
“[It is] very similar to last week where speed for the conditions was too fast,” Wagener added. “Like I talked about last week was the more traveling distance you’re giving yourself with vehicles in front and also paying attention to the vehicles behind you, the safer you’re going to be when conditions do deteriorate, whether it’s a visibility issue or an actual roadway condition issue.”
During the afternoon, tow trucks were able to extricate a number of vehicles that had veered off the roadway but were otherwise undamaged. Numerous others, which were damaged in collisions were towed off as well.
Heavy equipment has begun pulling apart some of the most severely damaged vehicles, and troopers on scene are concerned that more victims could be found in the wreckage.
Motorists delayed by the I-80 closure are asked to remain patient and check for updates at www.wyoroad.info or by calling 1-888-WYO-ROAD.