WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office says the 131-vehicle pileup on Interstate 41 is believed to be the largest traffic crash in state history.
The only crash victim who died was identified Monday as Andrew Schefelker, 30. He was in his first year teaching science to middle and high school students in the Iola-Scandinavia school district.
District Administrator Ray Przekurat provided a statement to Action 2 News:
On February 24, 2019 Iola-Scandinavia Science teacher Mr. Andrew Schefelker died suddenly as a result of an automobile accident. Mr. Schefelker was a 30 year old teacher who was in his first year of teaching middle school and high school science. He also helped out the school with supervising activities and selling event tickets and was very involved in Boy Scouts. Our hearts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Mr. Andrew Schefelker. Counselors will be available to students and staff at the Iola-Scandinavia Middle/High School.The school district was closed Monday, among 55 schools and school districts that were closed as cleanup continued in the wake of the weekend storm.
The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office says a majority of cars and trucks in the 131-vehicle pileup are a total loss and aren't drive-able.
In addition to the one fatality, 71 people were hurt in the massive chain reaction crash during whiteout conditions on southbound I-41 in Neenah. The sheriff's office says it will publicly identify the victim Monday afternoon.
The sheriff's office says 66 people were treated and released while 5 were admitted for their injuries.
Other drivers and passengers were safely removed from their stranded vehicles. They were taken to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Neenah for a warming shelter. The American Red Cross provided them with blankets, food and beverages.
The sheriff's office says it wants to make sure damage to each vehicle is thoroughly documented and that it has information on everyone who was in the vehicle at the time.
Owners will be contacted once their vehicle can be released to them, but owners with questions about their vehicle or who have information for the crash investigation can call (920) 236-7657.
"Obviously a scene of this magnitude is in its infancy. It's going to take us weeks to try and determine what actually occurred the sequence of events," Chief Deputy Todd Christopherson said.
Nearly 500 vehicles were stopped behind the crash and were re-routed. Crews spent the day cleaning up the mess and almost all vehicles have been removed. It has also been reported that 772 calls were made to 911 regarding the incident.
Emergency call centers successfully reunited all families involved in the crash.
Brown County authorities also temporarily closed southbound Interstate 43, citing whiteout conditions, ice-covered roads, multiple crashes and vehicles in ditches.