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Witnesses recall chain reaction of destruction in Monday’s fiery crash on I-435

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A Johnson County interstate is moving as normal this evening after a fiery crash shut down eastbound lanes of 435 for nearly 19 hours.

While accident investigators are still looking into the cause of the crash, FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien is live at 435 and Antioch and spoke with witnesses who barely escaped the wreck.

The accident involved a semi carrying food products, a car carrier, and an SUV and a car. One person is in critical condition at Research Medical Center and another victim has been treated and released.

Folks who witnessed the wreck said it is a miracle no one was killed.

"We're lucky. I just thought we were lucky, we were not in the middle of it."

Tarra Freeberg and her children were on their way home from running errands when she missed the Antioch exit from I-435, which put her car on the other side of the jersey barrier from a semi truck.

"And I see an accordion effect coming out of my peripheral vision and I can see them smashing into this truck," Freeberg said. "And I am thinking something is going to hit us and so I am bracing for something to hit us and then a huge explosion happened right at our car."

"Hear that loud boom and then I look over and then just heat, came right through the window. It was crazy," said witness Bryson Clinkenbeard. "You can almost compare it to, if you are really close to fireworks and you just hear ... the loud cannon fire, that is about what it sounded like. It was really, really loud and it shook the car."

Bryson Clinkenbeard was also heading home on I-435 when he heard several explosions.

"Giant fireball. I saw one of the semi trucks and a vehicle slam into the back of it," Clinkenbeard recalled. "Everything was just like engulfed in flames. Scared me to death."

"And I saw that truck driver jump out right away, he just went right into action but there was no way he could go back to help anyone because that explosion was between him and any vehicles behind," Freeberg said.

It happened in the construction zone along I-435 between Antioch and 69 Highway. Overland Park police said even without the construction, this is a dangerous area. I-435 and Metcalf is the number one crash site in Overland Park.

The Overland Park Police Department said it plans to step up patrols in this area, hoping to make it safer.

"I think it is just inattentive driving. I mean we have had a lot of these the last few weeks," Clinkenbeard said.

"Different lease on life today. Everything looks like not a big deal," Freeberg said, smiling.

We reached out to KDOT to ask if the agency will do anything to make the construction zone safer, and so far the spokesperson has not responded.