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Sudden Dust Storm Leads To Deadly 10-vehicle Pileup In Oklahoma

A swirling dust storm resulted in a 10-car pileup and the death of a driver on US Highway 54 in the Oklahoma Panhandle

Powerful winds kicked up a sudden and dangerous swirling dust storm Tuesday, causing a 10-vehicle pileup that killed a driver on US Highway 54 in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The blowing dirt and dust became so thick that officials said it rapidly reduced visibility to “near-zero conditions” for motorists near Goodwell, about an hour north of Amarillo, Texas. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the chain-reaction crash occurred around 11:30 a.m. local time when a car struck a vehicle that had stopped on the highway due to an earlier accident. That second crash, in turn, caused several collisions involving five tractor-trailer trucks and five cars that were unable to stop in time, police said.

One of the 10 vehicles involved in the pileup along US Highway 54 Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, 2023, near Goodwell in Oklahoma’s panhandle. OKLAHOMA HIGHWAY PATROL

Authorities said one driver, identified as Scott D. Morrell, 69, of Tyrone, was taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries. Police said he was traveling too fast for the conditions.

US 54 was shut down for miles starting southwest of Goodwell and up toward Optima.

The Texas County Sheriff’s Department said the “hurricane of dust” produced “near-zero visibility” conditions, as seen in a video shot from a police vehicle heading to the crash scene. The footage, shot by Highway Patrol Lt. Eric Brown as he and an officer followed an ambulance to the scene, shows thick clouds of dust enveloping the highway. In a separate video, the Sheriff’s Department shot footage of the subsequent wreckage once on the scene. Mangled vehicles and blown tires can be seen along the highway after the dust dissipated.

A closeup of the mangled trucks and cars involved in the 10-vehicle pileup along US Highway 54 Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, 2023, near Goodwell in Oklahoma’s Panhandle. OKLAHOMA HIGHWAY PATROL

Wind gusts of up to 78 mph were reported in the panhandle, according to the National Weather Service in Norman, which earlier had alerted drivers to expect reduced visibility of about 1 mile. The Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation also issued warnings to drivers in the area. “The high winds are affecting driving conditions in the panhandle. It’s kicking up the dirt so much that visibility is very low,” the Highway Patrol posted on social media.

The closed section of US 54 was reopened around 3 p.m. local time.





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