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I-94 pile up worse than first reported

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MICHIGAN CITY, INDIANA (WKZO) -- Authorities in LaPorte County now say their were 28 cars and 18-semis involved in that massive chain reaction collission near Michigan City Thursday afternoon.

They have released the name of the Grand Rapids couple who died.  Thomas and Marilyn Wolma were east bound on the interstate returning to Grand Rapids after taking care of a sick family member in Wisconsin.

They were pronounced dead at St. Anthony’s emergency room. Nurse Tina Thomas says she had a chance to talk with some of the victims and they say it wasn't just the white-out.  Slick road conditions kept them from stopping once they spotted the wrecks ahead. 

Mick Pawlik has been a firefighter for most of his life, but the Chief of the Coolspring Township Fire Department says he was shaken by what he saw out on I-94 on Thursday.

He says the latest casualty figures from the big chain reaction crash near Michigan city are 3 dead and 20-hospitalized, but he says it just as easily could have been the reverse.

He was one of the first on the scene and he says he has never seen anything like it before, hopes to never see it again and will never forget what he did see.

48-year-old Jeff Rennell of Ada says he is lucky to be alive after his car was crushed under the front of a semi in that big chain reaction crash near the Michigan border. He managed, with the help of rescue crews to survive with just a fractured ankle and some scratches.

 

It took 15-firefighters three hours to cut him out of the wreckage, during which time he also suffered mild hypothermia.

He was returning to West Michigan after business in Chicago. He was the last survivor pulled from the wreckage Thursday night.

This latest round of severely cold and snowy storms is now being blamed for 17 deaths nationally.

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