JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As many as 20 vehicles were involved in a chain reaction accident, closing Highway 63 Tuesday morning. Fog and smoke from a forest fire the day before combined to create the traffic nightmare.
Accident victim Melissa Finch said, "It went from being able to see, to nothing, just like that."
The smoke and fog created an eerie scene. Visibility was down to near zero. And when you can't see the road in front on you, bad things happen. Just ask Auston Bufkin.
"All I know is I was coming around a curve and I saw that Mustang sitting there, and I just hit the breaks, and all I saw was the lights. You couldn't see anything else, too much smoke," Bufkin recalled.
Some drivers, like Triston Winborn, said there was nothing they could do.
"I was coming down and it was kind of dense and then it got real thick and all of a sudden, bam, out of nowhere," Winborn said.
One man got the pre-dawn call no Dad wants to receive.
"Well, is she okay? That's the first thing you think about. Is she okay? And she told me she was," Walter Forman said of his daughter, Melissa. "Of course, I got up quickly and got down here as soon as I could."
"I was scared to death," Melissa said. "But then, once I realized that I was okay, I felt blessed. Just glad to be okay and safe."
When the first calls came in about the chain reaction accident, Acadian Ambulance paramedics sprang into action. They mobilized, and set up a command center, but the news was relatively good, according to Manager Frank Duke.
"There were actually three or four accidents separate. We had the fire department sort of go around and triage the patients, and make sure we didn't have any immediate life threats and report back to us," Duke said.
Only one person was transported to the hospital; The rest walked away with memories of the day the highway disappeared right in front of them.
It took about two hours for emergency personnel to clear away the wreckage and sweep debris off the highway. The road was reopened for traffic after daylight descended on the area, shortly before 7am.