Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- The interstate is back open after a 40-vehicle pileup shut down a stretch of I-10 in New Orleans East near the Michoud Boulevard exit Thursday.
By 6 p.m. on Thursday night the westbound stretch of I-10 was finally clear. Hours earlier, twisted metal littered the interstate where 40-vehicles slammed into each other.
Police say two people were killed, 22 patients were hospitalized and 37 people were injured but refused treatment. "I heard about it and everyone called and checked on me to make sure I wasn't in it," said Dedrick Jackson, who lives in New Orleans East not far from the crash site.
The New Orleans Police Department says poor visibility is to blame for the crash, most likely a combination of fog and smoke from a marsh fire that has been smoldering nearby since August.
Jackson said smoke combined with broken street lights means dangerous road conditions for drivers in New Orleans East.
"They really need to get some lights back here. Once you come off 510, once you get past Jazzland there is no lights. If you come up Lake Forest Boulevard, no lights. Nothing, and that is bad," said Jackson.
Residents say poor lighting is a problem along I-10 where the crash happened early Thursday morning. Eyewitness News spotted nearly two miles of interstate lighting that was out.
State law says the city is responsible for fixing broken lights.
"There are lights that are out along the interstate in eastern New Orleans. I've gotten complaints about it. I drive along there regularly and there are several lights that are out," said New Orleans City Councilmember Jon Johnson.
"We're paying taxes -- high taxes -- and nothing is being done for us out here, nothing," said John Adams, president of the Oak Island Subdivision.
Adams said unlit roadways and smoke from the marsh fire continue to plague his community.
While investigators try to figure out what exactly caused the massive interstate wreck, one resident says he is not surprised by Thursday's pileup.
"It was just a matter of time, just a matter of time, and if they don't fix it, it's going to happen again," said Adams.
City of New Orleans spokesman Ryan Berni said lights on I-10 between 510 and Michoud Boulevard were repaired in July. However, the city says their circuits have failed again. The city expects those lights to be repaired in January.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu also said on Thursday that he did not believe the marsh fire contributed to Thursday's crash and warned that it was too early to speculate the exact cause of the crash.