A mass casualty incident three miles west of Winnemucca closed down Interstate
80 east and westbound and called in every possible medical, law enforcement
and fire resource in the region.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Dispatch sent out the call shortly before
5 p.m. after motorists reported near-apocalyptic conditions on the interstate
that officials have tentatively attributed to recently cleared fields
and high local winds.
The wind and soil combination created white-out conditions resulting in
a mass pileup that involved dozens of injured and one dead: 51-year-old
Ravi Dyer of Chicago.
According to preliminary reports, the accident involved 27 total vehicles
including big rigs, passenger vehicles and even a tow truck. Eighteen
of those were heading westbound toward Reno while another nine were heading
eastbound toward Elko.
According to Humboldt General Hospital, a total of 18 persons were transported
to the Emergency Department. Three of those were listed in critical condition.
In all, 26 accident victims were treated in the ER, and 21 were treated
All available ambulances, including a unit from Lander County EMS, were
on scene. The ambulance from the HGH substation in McDermitt arrived to
cover the system in Winnemucca.
Because there were so many accident victims, the Winnemucca Police Department
also brought in a transport vehicle; Coach America also showed up on scene
to transport accident victims.
HGH EMS Rescue Acting Medical Commander Ken Whittaker said all patients
were off-scene and in various stages of recovery by approximately 9 p.m.
All hospital personnel, including the entire ER and OR teams, were called
in to aid in the mass incident.
Additionally, all ambulance personnel were on site. Paramedics and EMTs
aided the injured while other EMS staff and volunteers, with the help
of Newmont's Mine Rescue Team and members of the Grass Valley Fire
Department, cleaned and re-stocked ambulances to put them back into service.
According to the hospital, a fixed wing aircraft was in service throughout
the night and three patients were flown to Reno for advanced medical care.
Whittaker praised what he termed the amazing response from area first responders
including the highway patrol, the sheriff's office, the police department,
city and rural fire, the department of wildlife, the department of transportation,
Battle Mountain fire, and area mine rescue teams.
Humboldt County water trucks gratefully also showed up on scene to quell
the dust, which Whittaker said immediately helped responders in their
efforts to aid victims.