The Montana Department of Transportation has announced that Interstate 90 has reopened after a fatal accident that occurred early Wednesday morning near Tarkio in Mineral County.

As of 12:00 noon, westbound traffic is open to one lane, while eastbound traffic is being routed onto East Mullan at Superior, then reconnects to the Interstate at Tarkio.

Two people are dead as a result of black ice conditions when five semi trucks jackknifed and lost control.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Terry Rosenbaum told KGVO News at 7:00 a.m. that the driver of one of the trucks exited his vehicle and when he saw another truck heading toward him, he leaped over the bridge railing and fell to his death. One more trucker was killed when his truck slammed into another vehicle.

Frenchtown Fire District spokesman Mel Holtz was on the scene just after 5:00 a.m. when a member of his firefighting crew was injured at the crash site. He is now hospitalized in Missoula. Holtz emphasized that drivers need to slow down and use extreme caution during black ice conditions.

“If you do come upon a scene, and I can’t emphasize this enough, slow down,” said Holtz. “Let our crews work. We’re not paying attention to some of the traffic. We try to set up a scene management system so those firefighters are working on traffic control, however, we’re really tied up with injuries, so we’d really ask that the public slow down.”

Holtz shared the tragic statistics of what happens when drivers don’t slow down around an accident scene.

“In the last two years we’ve had multiple first responders injured, whether that be Montana Highway Patrol, EMS or fire crews,” he said. “It seems like there are a lot of near-misses, and we had an injury today.”

Holtz said the firefighter did not sustain life threatening injuries.



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