Updated Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 08:36 AM
BEAUMONT, Texas — Two people died and more than 80 people were hurt Thursday when at least 140 vehicles collided in Southeast Texas in a pileup that left trucks twisted on top of each other and authorities rushing to pull survivors from the wreckage.
The first collision occurred in extreme fog about 8:45 a.m. Thanksgiving Day on Interstate 10 southwest of Beaumont, a Gulf Coast city about 80 miles east of Houston. By 9:30 a.m. both sides of the highway were closed.
A man and a woman were killed in a 2007 Chevy Suburban SUV crushed by a tractor-trailer, the Texas Department of Public Safety told KFDM-TV.
Late Thursday, the public-safety agency identified the two as Vincent Leggio, 64, and his wife, Debra Leggio, 60, of Pearland.
Jefferson County sheriff's Deputy Rod Carroll said in a news release that 80 to 90 people were transported to hospitals with 10 to 12 of those in serious to critical condition. He said 140 to 150 vehicles were involved in the pileup.
According to the Department of Public Safety, a crash on the eastbound side of the highway led to other accidents in a chain reaction.
There also were multiple crashes on the other side of the highway.
Carroll said the fog was so thick that deputies didn't immediately realize they were dealing with multiple accidents.
"It is catastrophic," Carroll said. "I've got cars on top of cars."
I-10's eastbound lanes were reopened Thursday after more than eight hours.
Department of Public Safety trooper Stephanie Davis told KFDM that the two people in the SUV died after the crash.
Carroll said uninjured drivers tried to help as authorities sorted through the wreckage.
"It's just people helping people," Carroll said. "The foremost thing in this holiday season is how other travelers were helping us when we were overwhelmed."
GUISEPPE BARRANCO / AP
Cars and trucks are piled on Interstate 10 in Southeast Texas on Thanksgiving Day. The Department of Public Safety said at least 140 vehicles were involved in the accident.