AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A thick fog, early Tuesday morning, hung over the accident scene along SH130. The crash, located just south of the Harold Green Rd exit, involved 35 vehicles.
54 people were hurt including Adam Wright, Sr.
"And then suddenly, boom, here is a big blanket of fog,” said Wright.
Wright and his wife were heading home from a New Year's Eve party when they drove into the fog. They initially avoid the trouble but knew they were not out of danger.
"So this is not the best situation to be in, because you know you just went through a blanket and people behind you have no idea you are even there,” said Wright.
As a Travis County Deputy arrived, another chain-reaction crash was triggered. Even the county deputy got caught up. He would be OK. The cruiser added to the growing pile up.
Wright had a dash camera in his car and recorded one of the most frightening moments that came out of the fog. An 18 wheeler.
“I was on the outside of the car, I was like (Looks back and forward) Oh, get out of the car get out of the car,” said Wright.
The big rig plowed through nearly a dozen vehicles. Despite all the devastation the crash did not claim any lives.
"You go from fearing there is going to be more carnage and chaos to, OK now it’s over lets to the real point you're helping people and everyone is OK,” said Wright.
Through the fog, people could be seen helping and consoling one another.
Among those pulled from the wreckage was a baby and the child's parents.
"(I) Put them in the medium so that way if more cars came through they wouldn't get hit a third time,” said Wright.
Adam Wright is in the Army. He's posted at Camp Mabry. Wright told FOX7 he’s been on 7 deployments, and said the crash scene was strangely familiar. He credits his military training for being able to help the injured.
The crash was declared a Level 3 Mass Casualty event; a top classification. First responders from Austin and Travis County rushed to the scene and immediately closed off the road to prevent more crashes. By mid-morning the scene was cleared and the tollway open to traffic.
"I will tell you, I've been with the Sheriff's Office for 26 years and I have not seen a collision pile up like the way this one did,” said TCSO Captain Craig Smith.
The fog is being blamed for the crash, but Capt. Smith it’s not known what triggered the first collision.
"There were no citations issued, we do not believe that anybody was driving out of control, or dangerously or being negligent in any way,” said
It’s possible the fog may have even prevented fatalities. Traffic, according to investigators had slowed before making impact. Emergency crews were also praised for how quickly triage areas were set up.
"We couldn't have handled last night with just the TCSO, it took all of these agencies working together and everyone understanding their role and focusing in on their discipline to make this all work as seamlessly as it did, that comes with all of the agencies coming together and practicing,” said Capt. Smith.
Of the 54 hurt in the collision- nine people were transported to area hospitals. None- had life-threatening injuries.