BILLINGS — A Park County Sheriff's Office vehicle was totaled Tuesday afternoon near Livingston when a semitrailer lost control, hit the car and then left the scene of the crash, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
It was one of three crashes that blocked eastbound lanes of I-90. The interstate was closed as of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday while crews worked to remove vehicles and debris from the road.
At around 3:35 p.m., the deputy was out of his vehicle on I-90 eastbound near mile marker 345 and directing traffic around a crash involving two semitrailers when the driver of a third semitrailer nearby lost control of their vehicle and hit the deputy's car, said MHP Sgt. Patrick McLaughlin.
"It sounds like the trucker stopped momentarily, got back into his rig and left," McLaughlin said.
One semitrailer had rear-ended another as they attempted to slow down while approaching a vehicle that had gone off the road. Almost immediately after the two semitrailers crashed, there was a separate hit-and-run three-vehicle crash that sent cars into the median of the roadway, McLaughlin said.
"Basically we have three crashes within 150 feet of each other. Two of them are hit-and-run crashes." McLaughlin said. "We're very fortunate there's no injuries in any of them."
McLaughlin described the semitrailer that struck the deputy's vehicle as white and pulling a refrigerated trailer. It was last seen eastbound on I-90. McLaughlin guessed the deputy had been out of his vehicle for five minutes before it was hit.
"Based on the damage to the patrol car, it's going to have a lot of damage to the passenger side of the trailer," McLaughlin said.
The other hit-and-run crash involved a passenger car, a full-size van and a pickup pulling a trailer, McLaughlin said. Law enforcement officers are looking for a pickup pulling a snowmobile trailer with a "side-by-side" UTV or utility task vehicle that left the scene, McLaughlin said. The crash left the van "completely in the median" and the passenger car on the shoulder facing the wrong direction, McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said the road conditions "are icy with snow cover" and that there was a "pretty thick layer of ice on top and covered with snow."
Semitrailers were being held in Livingston out of caution and traffic was being redirected down the frontage road nearby, McLaughlin said. McLaughlin urged drivers to "drive to the conditions of the road," and "slow down."
"The people going in the ditch or that are crashing are going way too fast to react to what's going on in front of them with the conditions on the road," McLaughlin said.