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Ore. Dust Storm Causes Fatal Pileup

September 26, 1999

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) _ A blinding dust storm blowing across a desert stretch of Interstate 84 set off three deadly collisions between semitrailers and cars Saturday that left six dead and injured at least a dozen more.

Dozens of vehicles were involved in the three pileups in the eastbound lanes, said Lt. Gregg Hastings, an Oregon State Police spokesman.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said two crashes in the westbound lane, each involving semitrailers and passenger vehicles, killed one person each.

At the same location in the eastbound lane, a crash involving five semitrailers and 11 vehicles claimed four lives.

Visibility was reduced to near zero, police said.

The accidents in the wheat and sagebrush country 175 miles east of Portland happened late Saturday morning.

The highway was closed in both directions, backing up traffic for miles and forcing lengthy detours through Walla Walla, Wash. The westbound lanes were reopened in the evening.

Nine people were sent to Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston, with two admitted, while another three were being treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Walla Walla, officials said.