DETROIT -- It took only seconds for the light snow to turn into a blinding curtain of white. Drivers slammed on their brakes, others swerved to avoid tractor-trailers jackknifed across a busy Detroit freeway that quickly turned into a mile-long string of wrecks.
Three people were killed, including two children. The maze of mangled vehicles closed Interstate 75 for several hours after the Thursday morning chain-reaction wrecks that sent more than a dozen people to hospitals.
Ken Czarnecki recalled quickly swerving to avoid a stopped truck in his lane, then glancing off the side of a car wedged beneath another truck before striking the back of a semi-trailer. The falling snow, he said, took only moments to thicken.
"It was a total white sheet," Czarnecki said. "You couldn't see past the front of your car."
The children who died, a 7-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl from Windsor, Ontario, were believed to be siblings whose parents were injured in the accident, Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw. An adult also was killed, though no other information about the victims has been released.
Police estimated that as many as 30 cars, SUVs and semi-trailers were crushed, buckled or damaged along the freeway, which cuts through a heavily industrialized part of the city and nearby communities. Semi-trailers and tankers dominate the interstate, some hauling loads and liquids to a nearby refinery and steel companies.
Mahony relieved of duties: Cardinal Roger Mahony, who retired with a tainted career after dodging criminal charges over how he handled pedophile priests, was stripped of duties by his successor as a judge ordered confidential church personnel files released. The unprecedented move by Archbishop Jose Gomez came less than two weeks after other long-secret priest personnel records showed how Mahony worked with top aides to protect the Roman Catholic church from the engulfing scandal. One of those aides, Monsignor Thomas Curry stepped down Thursday as auxiliary bishop in the Los Angeles archdiocese's Santa Barbara region. Gomez said Mahony, 76, would no longer have administrative or public duties in the diocese.
U.S. weighs tougher action: High-level talks with the Chinese government to address persistent cyberattacks against U.S. companies and government agencies haven't worked, so officials say the Obama administration is now considering a range of actions. China-based hackers have long been an economic and national security concern, but as cybersecurity experts report an increase in attacks, U.S. leaders are looking to better address the threat and analyze its impact. Two former U.S. officials say the administration is preparing a new National Intelligence Estimate that, when complete, is expected to detail the cyberthreat, particularly from China, as a growing economic problem. One official said it also will cite more directly a role by the Chinese government in such espionage.
U.S. satellite lost in failed launch: Sea Launch AG says a U.S. communications satellite was lost after a booster rocket carrying it into space failed shortly after its launch from a floating platform in the Pacific. The company said in a statement today the Intelsat 27 satellite was lost 40 seconds after the launch due to the failure of the Zenit-3SL rocket. The Boeing Co.-built spacecraft was launched Thursday from the Odyssey ocean platform. Sea Launch AG President Kjell Karlsen said the cause of the failure is unknown and the company is working to evaluate it.
Mullen joins GM board: General Motors is expanding its board to include former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen. The addition is effective today and brings the board to a total of 15 members. Mullen, 66, is a retired Navy Admiral who was the main military adviser to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007-2011. GM CEO Dan Akerson said Mullen has experience in change management, strategic planning and technical innovation.
Triaminic, Theraflu bottles recalled: Some bottles of Triaminic and Theraflu cold and allergy syrups are being recalled because the child-resistant bottle caps may be defective. The recall covers 142 production lots of Triaminic syrups and 41 lots of Theraflu syrups. Novartis, which produces the medicines, said the defect could allow for the removal of the cap without breaking the seal on the bottle. The company received four reports of adverse events related to the Triaminic products.
Hedgehogs can carry salmonella: Add those cute little hedgehogs to the list of pets that can make you sick. In the last year, 20 people were infected by a rare but dangerous form of salmonella bacteria, and one person died in January. The illnesses were linked to contact with hedgehogs kept as pets, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials on Thursday say such cases seem to be increasing. The CDC recommends thoroughly washing your hands after handling hedgehogs and cleaning pet cages and other equipment outside. Other pets that carry the salmonella bug are frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, lizards, chicks and ducklings. Seven of the hedgehog illnesses were in Washington state, including the death of an elderly man from Spokane County who died in January. The other cases were in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon.
Blast kills 25: Rescuers searched for survivors and authorities promised a thorough investigation after an office building blast killed 25 people and injured 101 at the headquarters of Mexico's state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos. The cause of the basement explosion in an administrative building next to the iconic, 51-story Pemex tower in Mexico City remained a mystery early today, with President Enrique Pena Nieto urging people not to speculate. Theories ranged from an electrical fire to an air conditioning problem to a possible attack.