A multi-vehicle accident in blizzard conditions shut down a portion of U.S. Highway 20 in Grundy County Thursday.

Sheriff's officials posted a photo of the morning pile-up on Facebook just before 1 PM. They reported that the highway was closed between Ackley and Wellsburg but didn't release any other details.

According to a story in the Grundy Register, one person died in the crash and several others suffered severe injuries. Authorities did not immediately release any names.

The Register story indicated that 15-vehicles were involved in the mishap, which occurred on icy pavement with low visibility during heavy snowfall. Five semis and three cars were totaled in the wreck, the Register reported.

The Iowa State Patrol said one of the destroyed semis was hauling toxic material, which spilled onto the highway. U.S. 20 was closed for several hours while crews cleaned up the hazardous waste.

While the highway was closed, a second accident involving two semis occurred on U.S. 20 near the Iowa Highway 14 interchange around noon. Iowa State Patrol officials said one semi slowed to exit the closed highway and was rear-ended by the other semi.

Authorities identified the driver of the second semi as 23-year-old Mathew Hernandez of Tampa, Florida, who suffered unknown injuries in the crash. Officials said his passenger, 22-year-old Justin Ratton, also of Tampa, suffered a compound leg fracture and was trapped in the cab after the semi entered the median. Hernandez and Ratton were both transported to the Grundy Center hospital for treatment.

The Iowa State Patrol identified the other semi driver as 48-year-old Robert Hodges of Carlisle. He escaped injury.

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