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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mike De Sisti, Associated Press
Emergency workers work the scene of multi-vehicle car accident in the southbound lanes of U.S. 41/45 near the Highway 167/Holy Hill Road exit on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. At least five people have been transported to hospitals after a crash that involved at least eight vehicles brought traffic to a standstill Tuesday morning. Authorities say two semis and eight cars were involved in the fatal crash. Police Chief Peter Hoell says one person is dead and six others were taken to hospitals.

GERMANTOWN, Wis. — A semitrailer in southeastern Wisconsin collided with a car and crossed a highway median into oncoming traffic Tuesday morning, triggering a multi-vehicle pileup that left one person dead and six people injured.

The collision involved a total of two semis and eight other vehicles on Highway 41/45 in Germantown, where a light but steady rain had been falling. Authorities were investigating the cause, including the degree to which road conditions were a factor, Germantown police Chief Peter Hoell said.

"It was raining, roads were slick," he said. "It's not straight and flat there by any means. It's a little hilly, a little curvy."

Investigators sifted through the wreckage into midafternoon. Debris was scattered for at least a quarter mile along the road and shoulder. One semi that drove off the road remained upright with at least one car wedged hood-deep beneath it.

The accident happened about 9 a.m. A northbound semi made contact with a car and then crossed the grassy median into oncoming traffic, Hoell said.

The semi entered the southbound lane, where the main collisions occurred. Two vehicles ended up trapped in the space beneath one semi's bed, but it wasn't immediately clear whether that was the truck that crossed over.

A person in one of the trapped vehicles died. Someone in the other vehicle had to be extricated and was taken to a hospital with serious but unspecified injuries, Hoell said. The scene was "gruesome," he added.

The other five people who were hurt were taken to a hospital with injuries that the police chief described as non-life-threatening.

Traffic backed up as officers closed lanes in both directions throughout the morning. Northbound lanes were reopened after several hours, while southbound lanes remained closed into midafternoon.

Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.

Information from: WTMJ-TV, http://www.todaystmj4.com