A wall of fog instantly cut visibility for motorists heading west Thursday morning past the Ten Mile Road overpass on Interstate 84 at Meridian. Within seconds, nearly four dozen cars, pickups and tractor-trailers began bouncing against other vehicles on the four-lane road.
The driver of a Subaru Forester tried to move over and clipped another car at about 9 a.m. Meanwhile, a logging truck loaded with logs and driving in the far left lane clipped a tractor-trailer, then hit the Subaru on the front ride side of the log trailer and dragged it, rolling, down the freeway.
Log truck driver Cory Ford, working for Brian Wilson Trucking of Emmett, said a semi and a car cut in front of him. He said he tapped his brakes and then felt a collision.
"I hit the car or the truck and hit the barrier hard," said Ford, also from Emmett.
Meridian resident Carlee Wonderlich was headed to Nampa when she was caught up in the crash.
Wonderlich driving a small Toyota sedan slowed down and was passed by a tractor-trailer. Then, she said, vehicles "just started bouncing off one another."
Her car made it through with only slight damage to its rear left side. "I'm blessed," she said, "when you look around and see what happened here."
Idaho City resident Jeff Wright said he was driving in the fast lane at about 60 mph when he hit the thick fog and slowed down. The Subaru at that point was behind him.
He said the log truck hit the Subaru, shearing off its front bumper and nameplate. He said he steered hard to the right and ended up in the third lane from the left when his Subaru Outback came to a stop.
Wright rushed over to assist the driver of the other Subaru.
"I thought he was dead," Wright said. "I couldn't believe that someone could have survived that crash."
Wright called 911 and said he tried to keep the man, who remained conscious, calm.
"I was holding his hand while I was calling dispatch," he said.
The injured man was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries, but is expected to survive, police said. Nine other people were taken to hospitals with less serious injuries.
The freeway remained closed the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon before reopening about 2 p.m.
Idaho State Police Capt. Bill Gardiner said it was fortunate that more people weren't injured and that no one died. He said the tragedy brought out the good in people, such as Wright, running to help the injured man.
"We have a lot of good people here and they pitched in to do what they could to help," Gardiner said.
First-responders used spray paint to mark the position of each vehicle after the crash, then numbered them. Reconstruction experts moved between the vehicles as two truck operators worked to remove those that could not be driven away.
It could take the reconstruction experts a couple of weeks to finish their work and determine what happened.
A Valley Regional Transit bus was at the scene from about 9:45 a.m. to about 11:40 a.m., spokesman Mark Carnopis said. During that time, it was used as a place for people to warm up, Carnopis said. The driver of the bus then drove a handful of people involved in the crash away from the scene.
Return to Idahostatesman.com for more updates to this story. Our previous reporting is below:
Early morning commuters in the Treasure Valley encountered slick roads due to freezing rain that turned to light snow after a cold front passed through. After 9 a.m., dense fog became an issue in some parts of the Valley.
Emergency personnel were at the scene of these crashes at 9:30 a.m.:
— Westbound Interstate 84 near Ten Mile Road was closed at about 9 a.m. because of a crash involving a semi and several cars.
— A crash closed McMillan Road in both directions between Linder and Meridian roads.
— A crash closed Five Mile Road between Amity and Lake Hazel roads.
The cold front came through at about 5:30 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Just after 6 a.m., two crashes occurred on Interstate 84. One crash was in the eastbound lanes, just west of Orchard (three vehicles involved). Another crash was in the westbound lanes, west of Ten Mile (one vehicle). Paramedics were dispatched to both crashes.
The Ada County Sheriff's Office also tweeted that there was a crash at Desert and Maple Grove. No one was seriously injured in that crash.
Dispatchers in Boise, Elmore and Canyon counties said they were unaware of any early-morning crashes or slide-offs.
Boise could experience light rain and snow showers through the morning, as the front moves through the area. The forecast high for today is 39.
Temperatures in the region will warm up Friday, though Boise's high will only be a bit higher at about 40. Any precipitation Friday will be rain.
A Pacific storm will come through Saturday, bringing rain during the day and snow at night. Bogus Basin could get another 6 to 10 inches of snow by Sunday.