MERIDIAN -- A series of crashes on the interstate in Meridian Thursday shut down the freeway for nearly five hours. Now, Idaho State Police is beginning to piece together how the crashes played out.
"I don't know of anything greater than what we've had here, yesterday," said Cpl. Brandon Eller, a crash reconstructionist for Idaho State Police.
There were at least 44 vehicles involved in what ended up being a cluster of crashes.
When the proverbial dust settles and people are safe, Idaho State Police has several teams of crash reconstructionists that put together what happened, one piece at a time, just like a puzzle.
"A lot of times we'll get called to major scenes," said Eller.
In his 21 years, there have been few crashes, if any, larger than what happened Thursday morning on Interstate 84 in Meridian.
"From an investigators standpoint you've got multiple crashes that are separate,” said Eller. “Yeah you've got 40 some odd vehicles involved, but they weren't actually all involved in the, you know, coming together and colliding with each other.”
That makes the investigation that much more complex.
"In something so large, we're going to measure the entirety of the scene if it's possible, and then essentially what we do is we combine all that evidence with photographs, statements, interviews with people involved and we essentially try to put it back together just like a piece of the puzzle," said Eller.
Those like Eller use survey equipment to mark where every vehicle is and where piles of debris are, to figure out where everything started.
Investigators will use a computer program to put in that information and create a map of each separate crash. Then from there, put each one together, again, just like a puzzle that you complete one section at a time.
"Some of them might be done at this point, others may take several weeks to come up, and some of them we might not have a final answer ever," said Sgt. Fred Rice who was on the scene for Thursday’s crash.
Even though there were no fatalities and those injured are expected to survive, there could still be civil lawsuits that will use this information.
"In these months, you have to go slower. You have to go slower,” said Eller. “You cannot drive at 65 miles per hour on ice and expect to maintain control."
The driver of a black car that was nothing more than a pile of metal when everything was over, suffered the most significant injuries, according to ISP.
He's currently at Saint Alphonsus in Boise in serious condition with what police says are leg injuries. ISP credits paramedics and firefighters for work fast to keep the Meridian man alive.
Idaho State Police has issued several citations already for driving too fast for the conditions. They say more citations could come as they get deeper into the investigation.