Details of Wisconsin I-41 pileup emerge; 100 vehicles involved

New details have emerged after a series of crashes on Interstate Highway 41 Wednesday, April 21.

In the end, there were 20 crashes involving 100 vehicles -- more than 30 of them were damaged. The incidents stretched 18 miles with people in need of help.

The first crash happened in the Town of Wayne. Then, the calls cascaded in around 11:15 a.m.

"You couldn't tabletop an exercise like this," Washington County Sheriff Martin Shulteis said.

Sheriff Shulteis said for deputies and others first on the scene, minutes seemed like forever. The roadway was still open in name only.

"It was very frustrating, from what I could tell for the officers on-scene, initially, because there were multiple people that needed medical assistance, and they’re between crash scenes," said Sheriff Shulteis. "You had a difficult time getting the rescue squads to the scenes."

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While also trying to shut down the interstate, the Slinger Fire Department called for mutual aid -- including from the school district.

"I knew conditions were bad already when I left for a local rotary meeting," said Daren Sievers, Slinger School District superintendent.

The superintendent's phone rang, and that's "when all the wheels got in motion." School buses ferried people to safe locations, including the high school.

"A lot of them were very shook up, so we just gave them some calm in the middle of this very harried and challenging time," Sievers said.

One person -- a 37-year-old woman from Tennessee -- died. Six people were taken to the hospital.

"It was very, very challenging. But I have to say that I can’t speak highly enough for all of the first responders," Sheriff Shulteis said.

The name of the woman who died has not yet been released.

Sheriff Shulteis said extra staffing is always planned for days that there could be bad weather, and he is thankful that as many people were on hand; if there weren't, he said, the series of incidents would have been much harder to handle.


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