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An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

On This Day

Tuesday 11th December 1990

30 years ago

Ninety-nine vehicles were involved in an accident caused by fog on Interstate 75 in Calhoun, Tennessee, between Chattanooga and Knoxville near the Hiwassee River. Even the exact cause of the foggy pileup, the worst such crash in Tennessee history, remains unclear. Police, drivers and others had warned for years about the dangers of the heavy fog that persistently hung over the five-mile stretch of highway near the Hiwassee River. Witnesses later compared the fog bank that December day to "throwing a blanket over your windshield." The wreckage that resulted from the 99-car pileup that day made determining who crashed first almost impossible. Drivers who instantly lost visibility instinctively hit their brakes and slammed into each other willy-nilly in a matter of minutes. That number included tractor-trailers, cars, vans and pickups ? some hauling Christmas trees and presents. Gas tanks caught fire. Vehicles crumpled like tin cans. Survivors and first responders compared the scene to a war zone. "I started hearing bangs and booms from everywhere," said Ralph Fisher, a traveling salesman who pulled off the road in time to avoid the pileup. Authorities set up a makeshift morgue along the median to hold the bodies, some burned past recognition. Estimates of the death toll varied. A review by the National Transportation Safety Board later placed the body count at 12, with 42 injured. The dead included Richard Platt, 60, of Farragut, who never got home for his 12-year-old daughter's Christmas program. "I knew something was wrong (the day of the crash) when he didn't come home for dinner," said his widow, Marie. A string of lawsuits followed. Some targeted the state for failing to take stronger measures after a foggy pileup in the 1970s and repeated warnings. Others targeted paper manufacturer Bowater, claiming nearby holding ponds contributed to the fog. The NTSB's findings pointed no fingers, offered no easy answers and satisfied few critics.The Tennessee Department of Transportation installed a $4.4 million system of fog detectors, gates and warning signs along the fog zone in 1993. No such wrecks have happened there since.

Calhoun crash - 1990

Calhoun crash - 1990