Cranes and tow trucks worked Friday morning to clear the highway of detritus after they rushed to insure more cars weren't still stuck underneath trucks. The highway fully reopened late Friday morning, some 18 hours after the crash.
"They're getting to them as quick as they can, with cranes, wreckers, extrication," LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said. "There's just so much destruction, they have to tear apart those vehicles and semis and move them little by little to see if there is a car underneath them or under a trailer."
Jerry Dalrymple, 65, of Chicago, was pronounced dead at the scene, apparently of blunt force trauma. His 7-year-old black Labrador, Sparky, was also killed.
Husband and wife, Marilyn and Thomas Wolma, 65 and 67, of Grand Rapids, Mich., were also killed by blunt force trauma, the coroner's office said.
Twenty people were injured in the pileup, some airlifted to the hospital for treatment.
“Lucky we didn’t have 10 more, you know, from looking at it?" the coroner said. "Thank God we didn’t have any more.”
"It was like a war zone out there," said Mick Pawlik, a fire chief for the Cool Springs Volunteer Fire Department. "I never want to see it again. There were people in cars you couldn't even see."
Pawlik said it took more than four hours to remove all the victims, including one man who rescuers needed three hours to remove from a "pocket of vehicles." He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., in critical condition.
Officials said they were unsure when all lanes of the highway would be reopened.