Fiery 24-vehicle pileup claims 10, injures 42
Accident on icy stretch involves 19 cars and 5 trucks

Published: Monday, Jan. 24 2000 12:00 a.m. MST

PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- A truck jackknifed on a stretch of icy interstate, setting off a fiery 24-vehicle pileup that killed 10 people.

In addition to those killed, 42 people were injured in Sunday's accident on I-29 north of Kansas City, which involved 19 cars and five trucks, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.One tractor-trailer rig caught fire in the midst of the pileup. It took over an hour to contain the blaze, which was fueled by leaking hydrochloric acid, police said.

Nine victims were burned beyond recognition, said Sgt. Jack McMillan. Names were not released.

The 10th victim, who was killed when his car flipped off the interstate and into a ditch, was a man from Florida who was visiting St. Joseph for his 16-year-old grandchild's birthday party, McMillan said.

"I've been working for the highway patrol for 33 years and this is the worst accident I've ever been involved with," McMillan said.

The southbound lane of I-29 was reopened early Monday near Platte City, more than 12 hours after the accident.

Throughout the Kansas City area and western Missouri, cars began sliding on slick roads after an icy snow began falling about noon, surprising drivers who had expected only a light dusting of snow.

At least 50 accidents were reported from 1 to 3 p.m. on a stretch of I-29 from Kansas City to St. Joseph, the patrol said. By 8:30 p.m., at least 430 accidents had been reported in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Hospitals reported treating more than 100 traffic accident victims, including those injured near Platte City.

At least two other people were killed in traffic accidents around the state Sunday, the patrol said.

Derrick Thomas, a star linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, was seriously injured in a separate, one-vehicle accident. A spokeswoman for Liberty Hospital confirmed that the football player was at the hospital but declined to confirm reports that he had suffered a broken back.

A passenger in Thomas' car -- Michael Tellis, 49 -- was killed and another passenger suffered minor injuries when the car overturned several times on a snow and ice-covered road.

In Chariton County, Carolyn Barron, 61, died Sunday when the car in which she was riding went out of control on a snow-covered road and was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

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