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New video shows initial moments of fatal chain reaction crash on I-94 in Racine County

NOW: New video shows initial moments of fatal chain reaction crash on I-94 in Racine County

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Updated: 11:34 a.m. on June 20, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- New video from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation shows the initial explosions from a crash on Interstate 41/94 Wednesday morning.

Two semi-truck drivers died in the fiery chain-reaction crash near 50th Road on I-94 in Racine County.

Investigators believe the semi driver hit a construction barrier, overcorrected, and hit a median wall that was separating the northbound and southbound lanes. The force of the semi hitting the median wall shoved it into the oncoming lane of northbound traffic. Three other cars then crashed into the wall, sending two others to the hospital with serious injuries. A second semi then swerved to avoid the pileup, going over the freeway wall and into a ditch, catching fire.

The drivers of the semi trucks have not been identified. Authorities say reports of "explosions" are believed to have been tires that exploded due to intense heat. 

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Updated: 4:00 a.m. on June 20, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The I-41/94 northbound lanes are back open after being closed since Wednesday morning.

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Updated: 9:14 p.m. on June 19, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- I-41/94 southbound is back open after closing for nearly ten hours Wednesday.

The northbound lanes will remain closed overnight, as crews make repairs to the pavement from fire damage.

The Department of Transportation says they hope to have this accomplished before the Thursday morning commute.

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Updated: 9:00 p.m. on June 19, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said Wednesday the crash was the worst he's been a part of in his 24 years on the job.

He also said he isn't considering changes to I-94 speed limits or how it's patrolled.

The sheriff said he doesn't know if a lower limit would have made a difference in the crash.

"There's no secret, I-94 is under extreme construction," Sheriff Schmaling said. "We've been experiencing a lot of crashes, as you can imagine." 

Schmaling said there are already extra patrols who write citations around the clock.

He stressed that the onus is on drivers to be smarter and safer.

"We're used to traveling 70 miles an hour," Schmaling said. "I think if we followed some basic rules, allowed enough distance to stop, [it would help] prevent us from getting in accidents."

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Updated: 4:45 p.m. on June 19, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) – Two semi-truck drivers are dead after a fiery chain-reaction crash near 50th Road on I-94 in Racine County.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said the crash happened around 11:00 a.m. when a truck driver going southbound on I-94 tried to make a lane change.

Investigators believe the semi driver hit a construction barrier, overcorrected, and hit a median wall that was separating the northbound and southbound lanes. The force of the semi hitting the median wall shoved it into the oncoming lane of northbound traffic. Three other cars then crashed into the wall, sending two others to the hospital with serious injuries. A second semi then swerved to avoid the pileup, going over the freeway wall and into a ditch, catching fire.

The drivers of the semi trucks have not been identified. Sheriff Schmaling says reports of "explosions" are believed to have been tires that exploded due to intense heat. 

The Sheriff says I-94 in Racine County will remain closed for at least another three to four hours Wednesday evening.

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Updated: 1:32 p.m. June 19, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Racine County Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed two people are dead following a fiery crash Wednesday morning. 

All northbound and southbound lanes of I-41/94 have been shut down between Ryan Road and WIS 20 following an explosion and semi fire. 

Authorities are still investigating and more information is expected to be released from the Racine County Sheriff's Office. 

Drivers are asked to avoid the area. Northbound traffic should exit WIS 20 east to WIS 31. WIS 31 north to Ryan Road and Ryan Road west back to I-41/94. Southbound traffic should exit at Ryan Road, west to US 45, US 45 south to WIS 20 and WIS 20 east back to I-94/94 SB. 

Stay with CBS 58 on-air and online for updates on this developing story. 

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Updated: 11:35 a.m. June 19, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- All north and southbound lanes of I-41/94 at County K are closed after an explosion.

Photos show a semi on fire, falling over the ledge of the freeway. 


According to the Racine County Sheriff's Office, there are multiple victims and they are working to put out several fires on the interstate. 

The incident has caused major backups for drivers. The Sheriff's Office is asking people to avoid the area.

According to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, due to the incident in Racine County on I-94, southbound traffic is being diverted at Ryan Road. Expect closures at the Ryan Road on-ramp southbound.

For alternate routes, please click here. 

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Posted: 11:14 a.m. June 19, 2019

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- All northbound and southbound lanes of I-41/94 at County K are closed due to a traffic incident. 

According to the Department of Transportation, the closure is expected to last two hours. 

The Racine County Sheriff's Office is handling the investigation. 

DOT cameras show major backups in the area. 

Stay with CBS 58 on-air and online for updates in this developing story. 

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1 Comments

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Shadow123 32 days ago
The area IS DANGEROUS! I travel that area regularly and sat on the freeway for 3+ hours yesterday. The roads are uneven NARROW, While at a standstill, I had time to notice of having less than 6-8” before being on the white line. ALL types of vehicles bounce from the center lane to both sides of the other two lanes. Even while in standstill traffic I was almost run over. Being equal mid to back end of a semi in the neighboring lane, he was moving over to my lane! Had we not been at a speed of someone walking in my lane, I would of been slammed against the concrete wall. It’s unnerving to have such little space. It has little to do with distractions. It would be safer to create TWO “normal width” lanes. How many more accidents, people that will die and/or become permanently disabled before they figure it out.
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