UPDATE (11:30 a.m. Monday)

The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that three people, not four as previously reported, perished as a result of Sunday's crashes. A miscommunication in the midst of the response led to the erroneous report. 


Original Story:

Three people are dead and seven people injured -- one of them critically -- after two massive pileups that occurred nearly simultaneously on a stretch of I-80 in southern Wyoming on Sunday.

The two crashes involved roughly 140 vehicles in total, Deputy Jason Mower, public affairs officer for the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office, told K2 Radio News in a phone interview Monday morning.

Crews are still working the larger scene, which involves about 100 vehicles near mile marker 184. The three deaths occurred in that pileup, Mower said, and the scene stretches for miles.

The other crash involved about 40 vehicles and, while no deaths have been reported in connection with that incident, eight people were taken to hospitals for medical attention, one of them in critical condition.

Mower said he was unsure which incident was reported first, but his office started receiving calls at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The emergency response was massive, involving Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers from all along I-80 as well as numerous smaller, local law enforcement, fire and medical crews.

"It was such an overwhelming event with so many first responders involved, Love's Truck Stop in Wamsutter was actually very gracious and made sandwiches and provided coffee for all the first responders while they were working the events," Mower said.

Mower did not have information as to the specific cause of either pileup. That information would likely come from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, which is the agency leading the investigations.

But Mower pointed to the weather as a likely contributing factor.

"With wet snow, cooling temperatures and the wind, it just turns to a sheet of ice," Mower said. He's 11 years into the job and has worked a "handful" of 30- to 50-vehicle pileups previously.

"This is the biggest one that I've ever experienced," he added.

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