JOPLIN, Mo. -- Westbound I-44 is opened again at Exit 11 as of 12:35 p.m. Thursday. A crash that closed westbound I-44 on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Oklahoma on Thursday morning is cleared and traffic is moving once again into Oklahoma.
The Missouri Department of Transportation, working with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, stopped westbound traffic at Exit 11. Drivers had to find alternate routes into Oklahoma or wait in a safe place until the roadway was cleared.
A traffic backup on westbound I-44 at Joplin will take a few hours to clear. Even though I-44 is open and traffic is moving, the roadway still has snow-packed areas. Drivers should slow down and drive carefully and deliberately.
----MIAMI, Okla. (AP) -- Three people died after the sport utility vehicle in which they were riding veered off a bridge on the Will Rogers Turnpike (I-44) and plummeted more than 80 feet into an icy river. As many as eight people were in the Chevrolet Avalanche when it ran off Interstate 44 near Miami on Thursday morning.
Highway Patrol Lt. George Brown says the SUV went off the side of the bridge and into the ice-covered Spring River. The air temperature was minus-11 degrees at the time of the crash.
Road crews closed the highway after the blizzard on Tuesday dumped more than 20 inches of snow, sleet and ice. Plow operators opened the westbound lanes of the roadway late Wednesday night but law enforcement officers closed it again on Thursday morning after this crash.