A Perry couple were among nearly 20 people injured Sunday when high winds blowing dust and debris caused a 17-vehicle pileup on Interstate 70 in Colorado.
"They thought they had been hit 15 or 20 times," said Kim Kreicker, a friend of the Leo and Jo Mulvihill family. "To get out of the van they had to climb out a side window and onto the top of the car next to them. There was actually flying mud. Their eyes and ears were full of mud."
The Mulvihills were returning to Perry from Denver in a rented van when the crashes occurred, relatives said.
On Monday, Jo Mulvihill was in Denver's St. Anthony's Hospital, where she had been flown by a helicopter ambulance. A hospital spokeswoman said she was in fair condition. She was one of two people seriously injured in the pileup, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
Leo Mulvihill also was injured but was being brought back to Perry by relatives, Kreicker said Monday.
The Mulvihills were not the only ones in the van, Kreicker said. Traveling with them were their two daughters, Julie Mulvihill of Perry and Jane Mulvihill Jones and her 3-year-old daughter Kate of the Kansas City area, Kreicker said. They were not injured.
The daughters were able to climb out of the van and take Kate with them, fearing the van might explode. They later returned to check on Leo and Jo, Kreicker said.
The accident closed the interstate for nearly five hours from Burlington, Colo., to the Kansas state line. Three tractor-trailers were involved, the Colorado State Patrol said.
In Kansas, authorities stopped westbound traffic on I-70 at Goodland. The highway was reopened in both states at 4 p.m. Sunday. Troopers working in the area were treated at the hospital in Burlington, Colo., where their eyes had to be washed out because of heavy dust and debris in the air.
The pileup occurred after high winds kicked up a dust storm late Sunday morning in southeastern Colorado. There were no fatalities, the patrol said.