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DULUTH - Dozens of vehicles piled up on Interstate 35 Thursday as the weather turned ugly. Heavy snowfall made for slushy roads and a scary game of, what seemed like, extreme bumper cars.
The pileup quickly became a rescue effort for emergency crews around 11 a.m. in Duluth’s tunnels.
It started when a state trooper responded to a two-car crash in the second tunnel headed southbound on I-35.
When he got there, another car lost control and rear ended the trooper's car.
That’s when chaos broke out and at least 25 cars tried to stop but slid into each other.
No serious injuries were reported, but victims have some seriously scary stories to tell.
“It was about a 15-second ordeal but it seemed like it lasted a lifetime,” remembered third year University of Wisconsin Superior student Kirk Baker. "It was definitely one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.”
For Baker, it started out as a typical drive on I-35.
He remembers seeing cars slowing down when a car rear-ended him into another car. He then spun, and got rear-ended again.
He explains it as real life bumper cars with his Ford Escort smack dab in the middle.
During the crash, Baker hit his head on the driver-side window. After speaking with him Thursday afternoon, he went to the hospital with concussion-like symptoms. He was wearing his seat belt, but his airbag did not deploy.
"At first I was worried I was going to rear end somebody,” Baker said. “Then I noticed all the commotion and the chaos around me, and it was terrifying."
As things started to settle, Baker and his girlfriend looked around, and couldn't believe what they had lived through.
“At first we saw six cars and then we saw there was another car that was smashed between a truck and a wall that was hidden,” he said explaining the scene.
Little did he know, inside the car blocked in was East High School senior Taylor Locker.
"My driver's seat door was up against the wall of the tunnel so I couldn't get out from that way, and I couldn't get out from the other side because I was smashed in by another truck," Locker said.
She was trapped in her car without heat for two hours before finally being rescued. When Locker spun out of control, she ended up facing the opposite direction and watched the entire pile-up unfold.
"I sat there for a good couple minutes just watching more cars get hit and hit and hit,” she painfully remembered. “But there's nothing you can do about it."
While Baker and Locker are both without a set of wheels for now, they realize their lives are far more precious than a pile of metal.
“Worse things could happen, it's only a car,” Locker said.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, there were no life-threatening injuries during the large crash.
On city roads, Duluth police responded to 31 crashes.