(Photo: Gene Garate/ Reno Gazette Journal reader/ USAToday.com)
WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (AP) - Twenty-seven vehicles slammed into each other during a sandstorm in rural Northern Nevada, killing one person, seriously injuring several others and sapping already-thin emergency resources Monday evening, officials said.
Humboldt County sheriff's dispatchers called in virtually every medical, law enforcement and fire worker in the sparsely populated area after drivers reported "near-apocalyptic" conditions on Interstate 80 three miles west of Winnemucca, according to officials at the Humboldt General Hospital.
Highway Patrol officials say 51-year-old Ravi Dyer was killed when his commercial truck rear-ended another one.
Twenty-six people were taken to the Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca, according to hospital officials, including three in critical condition, one in serious and 10 in fair condition.
High winds about 5 p.m. Monday whipped up dust - possibly loose from recently cleared fields - and created white-out conditions, authorities said. Vehicles, including semitrailers, passenger cars and a tow truck piled up in both directions and shut down the highway, which is a major trucking corridor.
Images from the scene showed crunched-up vehicles, at least one overturned SUV and damaged big rigs with their loads spilling onto the road.
Hospital officials said the emergency response included some unusual helpers. The Winnemucca Police Department brought in a police transport vehicle, and the Coach America charter bus company sent a vehicle to transport victims.
A mine rescue crew from Newmont Mining Corp. and personnel from the Grass Valley, Calif., fire department assisted, hospital officials said, along with the entire emergency room and operating room teams at the Winnemucca hospital.
Incident Commander Ken Whittaker also praised officials from Humboldt County who brought in water trucks and helped quell the brown dust so emergency crews could help the victims.