In a scene that first responders continually train for – but hope to never face – Fort Worth’s emergency response personnel were among the heroes in a massive crash involving more than 130 vehicles on an ice-slickened stretch of I-35W north of downtown, the City of Fort Worth said in a posted news story
Six people were killed and dozens injured early Thursday morning in a tangle of semitrailers, cars and trucks that crashed into each other and ended up facing every which way, some vehicles coming to rest on top of others.
“My heart is breaking for our community as we come to learn about the extent of the losses we are experiencing from today’s accident,” Mayor Betsy Price said Thursday. “Our community is pouring out support, and I know that so many of you are asking for a way to help. Right now, what Fort Worth needs most is your prayers – for the families, the injured and the first responders. We will share updates in the coming days with any additional ways to support those in need during this difficult time.”
Here are capsules of information that explain how first responders worked together from before dawn on Thursdays to well into the night:
Fort Worth Police
Just after 6 a.m. on Feb. 11, Fort Worth Police Department units responded to a major accident on the 2400-2500 block of the southbound toll lane of I-35W, the North Freeway. It was reported that several vehicles had been involved in an accident.
Officers arriving on the scene quickly realized that multiple vehicles – perhaps even dozens – were involved. Officers immediately requested assistance and all southbound lanes of traffic were shut down from Loop 820 to near the downtown area.
More than 82 police units responded to the scene and collaborated with other departments during accident investigation operations.
A total of 135 vehicles were involved in the accident, which included 103 single-unit vehicles and 16 tractor-trailers, which each count as two vehicles. The Traffic Investigation Unit will continue with the ongoing investigation under police report No. 21-0011068.
The police also set up a site at a nearby community center for families to pick up and meet drivers and passengers who were involved in the pileup.
By 5:20 p.m. on Feb. 12, all southbound lanes on I-35W and 28th Street had reopened to regular traffic. The toll lane remains closed.
Fort Worth Fire
Twenty-six FWFD units were on the scene, including three heavy rescue and four truck companies. In all, more than 100 firefighters worked the accident.
Many patients required extrication with hydraulic rescue tools, and FWFD remained on the accident scene for about 14 hours.
“As we continue to work through all of the details of this incident, our main focus continues to be to support those affected,” said Fire Chief Jim Davis. “This is not an easy one by any means, it’s not a normal accident, it’s not a fender bender. It’s a major catastrophe in our city. Your Fort Worth Fire Department trains and equips our firefighters to provide the highest level of care in times like these.”
MedStar Mobile Health Care had 13 ambulances, four supervisors and 33 staff members on scene; 36 victims were treated and transported to area hospitals, three with critical injuries. There were 25 staff members who responded to an “all call” for additional personnel. In addition to the mass casualty incident on I-35W, MedStar personnel responded to 69 other calls between 6:15 and 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
An off-duty MedStar paramedic, who was on his way into work, in uniform, was involved in the crash and suffered facial injuries. Despite his injuries, he left his vehicle and assisted with patient triage and care until he eventually rode to a hospital in one of the ambulances to be evaluated for his injuries.
In addition, the wife of a MedStar paramedic/manager was involved in the pileup. Her husband ended up working the scene. The woman had minor injuries and was transported to an emergency room, where she was treated and released.
More than 100 firefighters and more than 80 police units responded to the massive crash.