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Watch this: Massive Milwaukee highway pileup captured on video

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MILWAUKEE, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s traffic cameras captured the frightening massive pileup that happened on Highway 41/45 near Lannon Rd. around noon on Sunday, December 8th.

As midday traffic slowed on the snow-covered Highway 45 at the height of Sunday’s storm, a DOT traffic camera captured the first vehicles spinning out of control, slamming into stopped cars.

Moments later, as the chain reaction claims more vehicles, several drivers get out and stand on the highway, forcing one vehicle to slide off the road and through a fence to avoid hitting them.

Germantown police officer Tim Miller was responding to another crash at the time when he witnessed driver after driver heading toward the pile-up. “I’d see them go southbound and I’d see their tail lights disappear into the snow and then, all of a sudden, I’d see their brake lights come on and I’d see the brake lights jump up or go off to the side or spin and you knew it was just happening and I’m watching these other people come southbound and I just knew they were gettin’ into an accident.”

Everyone survived that crash, but that was not the case just a few miles away on the same highway near Menominee Falls, where one person was killed in a pile-up involving dozens of vehicles.

The two wrecks sent scores of 911 calls pouring into Waukesha County’s Emergency Communications Center.

Dispatch Supervisor Christine Bannister was on duty as those calls rang in nearly non-stop. “We’re watching and listening and trying not to duplicate calls so the dispatchers aren’t overwhelmed.”

Those dispatchers are now getting their first look at the terrifying scene that 911 callers were describing to them.


  • Bert

    How freaking stupid do you have to be driving those speeds in that kind of weather complete idiots only a few were real victims all the others should be at fault for the other cars and people.

    • Cie Lynne

      I also agree with Bert. I saw the moment it happened before it happened. I saw the car driving too fast, like he didnt’ see any cars in front of him. Then all the stupid other people driving that fast even though they saw the cars slidding and hitting one another. Just makes me so mad. People talk about how people drive in California but we know enough not to speed when there’s ice and snow on the roads. Rainy roads is another story. lol

  • TJ

    I agree with Bert…it appears to me that a lot of those drivers were driving WAY TO FAST for those conditions!!! IDIOTS!!!

  • catlady81

    I completely agree with both of you! Just watching the video you can tell they are all driving way to fast in those type of conditions. Seems like a bunch of idiots!

  • theresa

    i don’t know if it is the camera or what but they appeared to be driving extremely fast for those kinds of conditions and they just kept coming. what part of slow down didn’t they understand??

  • SouthernGent

    Words cannot describe the stupidity I’m seeing on this video. It’s a good thing to see, though. You always wonder what it looks like while it’s happening. Well, here you go. And for goodness’ sake, don’t get out of your car!

  • Christina

    It’s not the Indy 500. They need to slow down and learn how to drive. I guess weather conditions there doesn’t mean anything to some people. It’s common sense people!

  • Ellen Eubank Staley Henry

    You see it every day..people doing 10-15 over the limit and often bumper to bumper. Don’t they teach any driving skills in school anymore?. you can’t do 80 …10 ft off someones bumper and expect to live. and the Idiots in the road..good grief!

  • Common Sense Not So Common

    It’s a no-brainer that those cars were driving way too fast for conditions, but those that crashed and just left their cars in the middle of the highway are especially boneheaded. Move your car to the side of the road ASAP. If you can’t move your car, then get out and move upstream (not downstream) of the accident ASAP. In conditions like that if you don’t get out the chances are very high that you’ll be hit again. Your vehicle isn’t as indestructable as you may think.

  • Mark Truckey

    I’ve been in one of those pile-ups. I pulled to the furthest side by the guard rail and jumped out. Not 10 seconds later an 18-wheeler slammed into the back and completely demolished the Civic into the pick-up truck in front of me. That dude in front and I just stood behind the rail and watched 20 cars get totaled. If we stayed in our vehicles I’d be dead and he’d have permanent back and neck problems.

  • Steve

    Wow just terrible driving in poor road conditions. As to the comment “stay in your vehicle” it is not a practice that we train because there are too many variables involved. personal safety is paramount. Speed is not what kills, its the difference in speeds, ie: if you are rear-ended at 75 mph and the vehicle re-ends you is doing 80mph its a 5 mph impact (not life threatening) hit a tree at 45 mph severe injuries. if you just slow to conditions we avoid these accidents. Anybody else notice that visibility was really not bad at all, drivers should have been able to raise their vision further down the road and slow accordingly.

  • Elizabeth Williams

    How stupid do you have to be to then get OUT of your vehicle and stand like a “sitting duck” in the middle of the HIGHWAY to be FLATTENED by the other cars????????? I was DUMBFOUNDED by the idiots who got out and STOOD in the path of oncoming CARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Marty Bassin

      @Cindy: Great comment. Most (NOT all; but most) CDL (professional big-rig truck drivers) are knowledgable, safe drivers. This particular driver recognized that there was trouble ahead and that he and others would have a problem navigating this mess, so he safely stopped and used his flashers as a warning. I’ll also bet that he used his CB radio to warn other trucks of this.

  • Mike Frei

    First thing a learned from this video is, if you’re driving in white out conditions and are involved in an accident get your car off the road as quickly as possible. Who cares about insurance claims and documenting the accident. The first three cars that crashed are still in middle of the road at the end of the video. Had they not been there the other twenty cars that were involved would have not been involved.

    And also the obvious speeding, but we all know that.

    • Cie Lynne

      I think anyone getting out of their cars in a situation like this is asking for death. When there’s bad weather, stay home or drive with caution. Don’t get out of your car to check on it. I saw about 3 people who could have been killed because they were out of their cars and they saw other cars coming towards them.

  • Kathie

    wow everyone was driving too fast for the conditions. Also why not move your car off to the side and get out, move way to the side and up from the accident site. Common sense Do People forget they have brains????

  • Ivan

    I lived in Milwaukee for a couple of years and saw my share of winter storms with rotten road conditions. It’s hard to believe that many people who live up that way made such idiotic driving errors. Quite a few of those boneheads were driving waaaaaay too fast to begin with. Listen up, people. ICE is NOT your friend.

  • Lisa

    You all think they are just out of their cars to check damage??!!! What about checking on other drivers to administer first aid?! They were probably good citizens thinking it was over… and as far as moving off the middle of the road- maybe their cars were ON ICE and they couldn’t move them! Give these people some credit for being in SHOCK and doing what they thought was best under that much pressure!

    Hopefully we can all learn several lessons from this and pass them along, expecially to teen drivers and college students traveling the interstates to visit home! I will be researching what is suggested and get my car prepared with boots/blankets/first aid kits, etc. in case we ever
    have to stand in a frozen field for hours!

    Glad all survived!

  • lauren

    This is why my one reason for hating winter will never change. Road conditions and those people who think that they can drive the regular limit because its just snow/sleet etc. Half of these people look like they were flying past others and the lanes are covered. Even though the semi is heavier its funny he didn’t get or cause any damage. Sheesh

  • Robert Brekke

    I agree look at there speed they are crazy, I have florida plates on my car because I live down here now, I go up to Minnesota in the winter a lot & when the snow & ice is bad I slow down they go around me blowing there horn & in most cases I catch up with them banged into another car they think I am the bad driver, I was raised in Minneapolis and took my drivers test in the snow & passed in flying colors none of them drivers could have done it.

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