2 Children Among 6 Dead After Montana Dust Storm Causes Highway Pileup

·3 min read
2 Children Among 6 Dead After Montana Dust Storm Causes Highway Pileup

Six people are dead, including two children, after a dust storm on Interstate 90 in Montana led to a pileup last Friday afternoon.

The storm caused blackout conditions, The Associated Press reported Saturday. According to Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jay Nelson, investigators have not found any other factors contributing to the tragic accident.

"Everything is indicative of an isolated extreme weather event," Nelson said, according to the outlet. "What could people do? It really was just panic."

The Montana Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Citing authorities, the Associated Press said the crash involved 21 vehicles, including six commercial semi-trucks and was reported around 4:30 p.m. The vehicles lost control amid the storm which resulted from gusts reaching 60 mph.

Nelson told the outlet that there was zero visibility for a mile stretch of the highway.

RELATED: 'Heroic' Indiana Man, 25, Runs Into Burning Home to Save 5 Children Trapped Inside

First responders work the scene on Interstate 90 after a fatal pileup where at least 20 vehicles crashed near Hardin, Mont., Friday, July 15, 2022.
First responders work the scene on Interstate 90 after a fatal pileup where at least 20 vehicles crashed near Hardin, Mont., Friday, July 15, 2022.

Amy Lynn Nelson/The Billings Gazette via AP

"I'm deeply saddened by the news of a mass casualty crash near Hardin. Please join me in prayer to lift up the victims and their loved ones. We're grateful to our first responders for their service," Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said of the accident on Twitter.

In addition to those killed, the crash sent eight others to the hospital with injuries, the AP said. The identities of the victims, and the condition of those who survived, had not yet been released as of Saturday's reporting.

Jose Strickland, who according to TODAY, was "team-driving" a rig with his father, Raul Joseph Beger, caught the aftermath of the accident on camera.

"Visibility dropped in an instant, and we found ourselves skidding to a stop and everyone scrambling off the road to safety," Strickland wrote alongside a nearly two minute long video of the aftermath posted to Facebook. "My heart goes out to the families affected."

"Today I helped save a mans life and lost another before we could get him some help. In total there were about 7-8 fatalities in what was about a 20 car pileup," the caption continued.  "I still can't get over the fact that we were 1 truck away from disaster. For whatever reason my Dad Raul Joseph Beger decided to take the wheel after lunch and to say the least I'm glad his experience came into play."

First responders work the scene on Interstate 90 after a fatal pileup where at least 20 vehicles crashed near Hardin, Mont., Friday, July 15, 2022.
First responders work the scene on Interstate 90 after a fatal pileup where at least 20 vehicles crashed near Hardin, Mont., Friday, July 15, 2022.

Amy Lynn Nelson/The Billings Gazette via AP Fatal pileup on Interstate 90

RELATED: 4 Dead in New Mexico Helicopter Crash After Sheriffs, Fire Department Responded to Wildfire

The video shows some of the destruction that resulted from the storm including a van that appeared to have crashed into a large semi-truck. Later in the video he shows two other vehicles involved in a collision in which the back vehicle's front is completely destroyed.

According to TODAY, after the storm began causing low-visibility on the road, Strickland and his father were contacted over radio by an "associate" who was just a few feet away from the crash warning the duo to stop.

First responders work the scene on Interstate 90 after a fatal pileup where at least 20 vehicles crashed near Hardin, Mont., Friday, July 15, 2022.
First responders work the scene on Interstate 90 after a fatal pileup where at least 20 vehicles crashed near Hardin, Mont., Friday, July 15, 2022.

Amy Lynn Nelson/The Billings Gazette via AP Montana highway pileup

"It was a chain reaction," Strickland said. "There was no alert."

Following the accident, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen shared on Facebook that authorities were investigating the accident.

Knudsen wrote, "We will release more information as it becomes available and is appropriate out of respect of the lives lost and their loved ones."