The reconstruction involves 15 investigators who have been working together in the same room—called the “war room”—trying to determine the root cause of the crash that in addition to sending 22 individuals to the hospital, left one person dead. All told the crash involved a fire, close to 60 vehicles and stretched a quarter of a mile. Following the crash the stretch of road remained closed for two days. To keep people out as they work they posted a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

Among other things the information gathered during the reconstruction will help determine what if any additional safety steps need to be taken in the area where the crash occurred. These might include:

  • An increase in police patrols.
  • Highway design changes.
  • Changes in signage.

The investigators are looking at everything to determine what happened. For example, the weather at the time of the incident was cold, snowy and windy. To identify the burned out vehicles a State Police auto theft unit was brought in. In addition, everything possible is being done to talk to the owners of those vehicles and get their version of what happened.

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The team is also trying to find any videos or photos of the incident and black boxes found on semi-trucks were analyzed to determine what was going on with the braking and steering systems and how fast the vehicles were traveling when the incident occurred. With all of the information gathered, the team is making a 3-D version of the crash utilizing a new technology.

Hopefully the knowledge acquired will have a positive impact in the future.

Source:, “Dissecting the destruction: Police piecing together what happened in Michigan I-94 pileup,” Rex Hall, Jr., January 16, 2015

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