Two hospitalized following multi-semi accident on I-70 near Wright City

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WRIGHT CITY, MO (KTVI)- Two people were airlifted to the hospital and traffic was tied up for hours after a crash early Monday morning on I-70 in Wright City. The wreck involved three tractor trailers and one SUV. Two of the semis rolled over.

“I would say this is a pretty horrific crash,” said Sergeant Al Nothum with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The crash happened on I-70 west near mile marker 199 around 5:05 a.m.

Nothum says a tractor trailer driven by James Barnes, 28, of Tipp City, OH, was heading west on I-70 when the driver somehow lost control and went off of the left side of the highway. Barnes then over-corrected and the semi overturned, blocking all lanes of traffic.

Two more semis and a Jeep Grand Cherokee crashed into the semi.  One of the big rigs overturned and rolled into a ditch. Investigators say there was nothing the drivers could do to prevent then hitting the trailer.

“It boils down to when you’re driving down the highway you have the expectation of driving down the highway and not having something in your lane of traffic, What happened was it was still dark out and there it was- all three vehicles that came by,” said Nothum.

Barnes, and the driver of the other semi that rolled, Richard Renfro, 58, of Jerseyville, IL, were airlifted to a hospital. Both were conscious and talking when they left the crash scene.

Fire crews called the scene chaotic.

“It’s very challenging because it’s so spread out. We’re looking at a distance of about 400 feet in this whole incident so it’s spread out. And so it was a matter of running back and forth and having people actually do recon. I could understand what exactly was necessary at each incident,” said Harry Cohoon, the Deputy Chief of the Wright City Fire Protection District.

Authorities say it’s miraculous that the Jeep driver escaped without being seriously hurt given the damage done to the SUV. He was at the scene with only a bandage right above his eye.

Portions of I-70 remained shut down for close to six hours while the wreck was investigated, causing a substantial traffic back up.

Investigators say the whole incident could have been much worse.

“No one died in this crash; It appears no one is going to die. Let’s hope and so. That’s the important thing,” said Nothum.

Missouri Highway Patrol investigators are still trying to figure out why the driver of the big rig that caused the crash ran off of the highway.

This crash happened just six miles from another a crash earlier this month on I-70 that killed one person and injured several others. Nine cars were involved in that wreck including four semis.

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