Several crashes involving 11 vehicles blocked eastbound Interstate 80 for about three hours Wednesday between the Aurora and Giltner exits east of Grand Island, the Nebraska State Patrol said.
About 9:10 a.m., Hamilton County officials received a 911 call that two semitrailer trucks had crashed and jackknifed, blocking eastbound I-80 traffic near mile marker 328. As troopers and officers were en route to the scene, additional vehicles became involved in a chain-reaction crash.
The first crash scene involved four semis and one passenger vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, the Nebraska State Patrol said.
After the initial crash, two semis that were traveling together came upon the scene and the drivers were unable to stop. One struck the other, pushing it into the Jeep Cherokee.
Both occupants of the Cherokee were taken to a hospital in Aurora. The passenger, Jason Palmer, 29, of Indiana, was taken by medical helicopter to a Kearney hospital with life-threatening injuries, the patrol said. The driver was evaluated and has been released from the hospital.
One of the semi drivers, Jeffrey Clark, 56, of Colorado, also was taken to the hospital. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.
As traffic was stopped for the first crash scene, another semi jackknifed while attempting to avoid the stopped traffic. Moments later, another crash occurred a short distance to the west involving two more semis and a minivan. No injuries were reported in those crashes.
In total, nine semis and two passenger vehicles were involved in the crashes.
Weather conditions were considered a factor in the crashes.