Meridian man hurt in freeway pileup listed in 'serious' condition

The Idaho StatesmanJanuary 10, 2014 

It took an hour Thursday morning for rescuers to free Jose D. Silva Cuellar, 52, from the crumpled hull of his 2011 Subaru Forester after it was dragged about 180 feet down Interstate 84 at Meridian.

The Subaru was struck by a 2004 Kenworth logging truck driven by Cory D. Ford, 38, of Emmett. The Subaru got caught in the right front section of the logging truck's loaded trailer and rolled several times as it was pulled forward.

Silva was taken by ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. He was listed Thursday morning in serious condition, a hospital spokesman said.

The crashes occurred as westbound drivers hit a wall of fog at the Ten Mile Road overpass. Icy conditions were also reported on the freeway.

The Idaho State Police said at least 44 vehicles were involved in the pileup, revised from 46 vehicles reported Thursday. Several drivers were cited for basic rule violations for driving too fast for conditions, the state police reported.

No other injuries were reported from that incident.

Overall, 10 people were injured and taken to hospitals, according to the state police and Ada Paramedics.

A dozen separate incidents were tallied in the pileups that occurred at 9 a.m. as semis, pickups and passenger cars passed the Ten Mile Road overpass on Interstate 84 at Meridian.

Witnesses reported visibility dropped to nearly zero as they continued west on the freeway.

The most serious crash occurred when Ford's logging truck struck several other vehicles as he tried to maneuver through the fog from the far left lane and come to a stop.

Ford told the Statesman on Thursday that a car and a tractor-trailer cut in front of him right before the crash. He said he felt his truck, which was loaded with logs, strike a car or a truck and then slam into the concrete median.

The state police have not yet decided whether Ford, who was driving for Brian Wilson Trucking of Emmett, will be cited. Troopers needed additional time to evaluate the circumstances of the incident Ford was involved in, ISP spokeswoman Teresa Baker said.

Fourteen vehicles were involved in one of the 12 separate incidents. A tractor-trailer began to slow and was struck from behind by another vehicle. That led to a chain reaction with each of the 12 following vehicles striking the car or truck in front of them.

Three people — all of whom were wearing seat belts, troopers said — were injured in that incident. They were taken to area hospitals for treatment. In all, 10 people were treated at hospitals for injuries suffered in the pileup.

All but one of the crashes took place on the westbound side of the freeway. Three vehicles were damaged and one person was taken to a hospital following a crash directly across from the westbound scene.

The westbound freeway between Ten Mile and the Garrity Boulevard exit in Nampa remained closed for five hours.

The investigation into the crashes continues and additional citations may be issued.

State police believe the accidents could have been prevented if motorists had slowed down to meet the foggy and icy conditions. Troopers said drivers should slow down and allow more room between vehicles.

Idaho State Police were assisted by Nampa Fire Department, Meridian Fire Department, Ada County Paramedics, Canyon County Paramedics, Ada County Sheriff's Office and the Idaho Transportation Department.

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