Dust storm wreaks havoc, causes multi-vehicle crash

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Idaho State Police are still compiling information on a multi-car pileup that closed I-86 between American Falls and Pocatello.

The exact number of vehicles involved in the crash is still unknown as is the extent of injuries suffered by motorists involved in the crash. Idaho State Police dispatch told The Idaho State Journal on Monday, April 14, injured motorists were taken by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center and Power County Hospital, but none were considered seriously injured.

High winds created dust storms that reduced visibility to inches. Cars slowed to a crawl and many finally pulled to the side of I-86 until visibility increased.

Jennifer Rupp of American Falls was caught in the dust storm.

“It was like a wall of dirt. I pulled off just behind another car and there were times when you could see it just a few feet ahead of us and then times when I couldn’t see the front end of my own car,” said Rupp.

ABC Towing owner Troy Brazelton responded to a request from one motorist for a tow, and said the dust blocked out the sun.

“We were just barely creeping along as we got close to the wreck site and there were times that a gust would blow through and it was like someone flipped a light switch,” said Brazelton.

Numerous agencies assisted with the massive accident. Six Power County Sheriff deputies and six American Falls Police officers were dispatched to conduct traffic control. Power County Search and Rescue was placed on stand-by in case responding officers needed to be relieved.

Power County EMS and Rockland ambulance responded directly to the accident transporting injured motorists. Power County Highway District employees assisted with closing county frontage roads.

Numerous motorists were stopped in American Falls including a bus full of students headed home from a leadership conference in Boise. The students were sent to American Falls High School to wait out the storm. Subway provided free sandwiches to the stranded students.

Idaho State Police indicated in an email on Sunday, April 14, that a full press release with full details would be issued once reports were completed, but no timeline was given.

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