An icy highway in Texas is being blamed for a massive pileup of vehicles Thursday that has left at least five dead, reports the Fort Worth Star Telegram. The toll could grow: Authorities were still searching vehicle by vehicle for trapped drivers and passengers, and several of the approximately three dozen people transported to hospitals had critical injuries. The pileup happened about 6:30am Eastern and involved an estimated 100 cars and trucks—including 18-wheelers—on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth. Once the initial accident happened, witnesses say other vehicles were powerless to stop crashing into the pile because of the icy conditions.
“The vehicles are just mangled,” says a spokesman for MedStar ambulance service, per the AP. “It’s going to take a lot to disentangle this wreck.” The crash scene stretches nearly a mile long, reports CNN. Authorities had to bring in buses to transport drivers and passengers from the scene. They "were not patients but could've become patients because of hypothermia," says the MedStar rep. Police also had to set up a family reunification site at a local community center. The pileup occurred after an overnight storm brought freezing rain and disrupted travel across the region, reports NBC Dallas Fort Worth. In Austin, five people were hospitalized after a 26-vehicle pileup. (Read more Fort Worth stories.)