I-55 crash survivors recount terrifying moments of 158-vehicle pileup

Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 11:47 PM CDT
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MANCHAC, La. (WVUE) - Survivors of Monday’s deadly Interstate 55 crashes say they are grateful to be alive, but that the memories from the pileup are forever burned in their minds.

“Everybody had to run and get out their car so fast, because the more and more you sat there, the more and more cars just kept hitting everybody,” said Kylie Cuevas.

She was on her way to school from Belle Chasse when she suddenly became surrounded by the aftermath of more than 150 colliding vehicles, turning I-55 near Manchac into a mangled mess of wreckage extending a mile in each direction.

Louisiana State Police said Monday night that seven fatalities have been confirmed, but that the number of fatalities could climb as more of the interstate is cleared.

“I almost got out my driver side and all of a sudden, this car comes zooming past me and hits the car in front of them, so I quickly jumped over to my passenger side and got out of my passenger side door,” Cuevas said.

Drivers experiencing the trauma firsthand say they were completely terrified.

“I’m shocked still. There were explosions happening from the 18-wheeler that was way farther ahead that was on fire,” Cuevas said. “They were trying to put it out. We just kept hearing explosions which was very scary for all of us.”

Carly Mosely raced to be reunited with her toddler son, who was pinned in his dad’s vehicle.

“There was a pileup on the back of his dad’s car,” Mosley said. “His dad had to bust the window to get him out.”

It took around four hours to get her child back in her arms, safe and sound.

“They were stranded on top of the bridge, and there’s still a lot of smoke and he’s only 3,” Mosley said. “That’s a lot for a toddler to go through.”

Erica Glory was on her way to the airport with her mom in the driver’s seat.

“Before we even saw the taillights coming, I was just like, ‘Mom I don’t like this,’ because you could just not see in front of your face,” Glory said. “My first instinct was to jump out and run. My mom was holding me, like, ‘Stay in the car until this is over.’ It’s just your gut reaction to run forward and get out of the path, but had a car slammed into us and moved her car forward, we had the possibility of getting pinned.”

Glory says she hopes mitigation efforts can prevent this from happening on other roadways, especially those that elevate over water and worsen the conditions for higher fog density.

Grateful for her life, Glory feels bonded with the other survivors.

“I made contact with several people after those first few cars were able to navigate out, and we just looked at each other,” Glory said. “We all let out this sigh of relief. And those are people’s faces that I feel like I will remember forever.”

Louisiana State Police say they are working to reconnect all crash survivors with their vehicles and belongings that were towed off the interstate. They ask those involved to email troopb@la.gov with contact information to receive further instructions.

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