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'Thought he was going to roll right over me': Drivers recount frightening memories of chain-reaction crash on I-41

Posted at 10:20 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 12:06:38-04

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Nearly 50 vehicles were part of just one chain-reaction crash along Interstate 41 near Highway 60 in Washington County Wednesday morning. Heavy bursts of snow contributed to near whiteout conditions at the time of the crashes.

At one scene near Highway 60, Mary Polacyzk of DePere explained the moments during the crash.

“All of a sudden there was just a whiteout, and all you saw were brake lights and smashing cars. The semi went down into a ditch and broke in half. Something hit me in the back and spun me around and out of my back window. I saw the county truck full of salt start to roll over and I thought he was going to roll right over me, but it stopped,” said Polacyzk.

Also in that pile-up was Connie Knoll and her family. She describes the scene as out of a movie.

"There were horns beeping, you could hear people crying and screaming, and it just smelled bad,” Knoll said.

Knoll’s husband and daughter, who are both EMTs, helped first responders while she tended to her two grandchildren in the car. They were all unhurt.

The sheriff’s office says 48 vehicles were involved in the crash Polacyzk and Knoll were part of. Of those, 38 cars were damaged. Six people were taken to the hospital with injuries. There were two other chain-reaction crashes on the same roadway within minutes, one of which killed a 37-year-old Tennessee woman. Another was about a mile up the highway, and the third in the southbound lanes of I-41 near the Town of Wayne.

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