MICHIGAN CITY, Ind.

Three killed, dozens injured in whiteout on Interstate 94

Cars were mangled, and some were burned despite the blowing snow. Other vehicles were crushed between jackknifed semi-tractors, so entwined that it was difficult to tell them apart.

People were screaming, but emergency responders couldn’t see many of them as they quickly tended the victims amid frigid conditions.

Within seconds, traffic along snow-covered Interstate 94 in northern Indiana had become a mile-long pile of debris after whiteout conditions swept in during Thursday’s evening commute. Three people were killed and nearly two dozen were injured.

“It was such a devastating scene, you don’t know where to start,” said Coolspring Township Fire Chief Mick Pawlik, whose volunteer crew was among the first on the scene about 60 miles south of Chicago.

“There were people in cars that you couldn’t even see,” Pawlik said during a news conference Friday. “But when people are stuck in their cars, they look at you like we’re Moses. ‘Part the water. Save us.”’

WASHINGTON

Christie’s struggles stir buzz at Republican gathering

Chris Christie may have been nearly 200 miles away, but his struggles in New Jersey buzzed through the hallways of a Washington hotel this week as hundreds of Republican officials gathered to debate the party’s future.

Party activists from Mississippi to Massachusetts defended Christie’s leadership, insisting this is no time to write his political obituary. But they also said it’s far too soon to grant him presidential front-runner status.

Christie’s popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid revelations that senior members of his administration helped create massive traffic jams last fall, apparently to exact political retribution against a Democratic New Jersey mayor.

Additional allegations of political bullying have emerged as federal prosecutors and Democratic legislators probe the matter. Four people close to Christie have been fired or have resigned.

A roadblock for a possible presidential run? More like a speed bump, one activist said Friday. It could even help Christie among party conservatives by turning him into a martyr, said another. But he still faces resistance among some of those conservatives.

Chief state school officers address privacy concerns

Chief state school officers are seeking to reassure the public that the new Common Core standards will not lead to the sharing of personally identifiable student data with the federal government.

Education officers from 35 states sent a letter Thursday to Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressing concerns that there will be new reporting requirements because of the standards. They said that won’t happen and that the federal government is prohibited from creating a student-level database with individual students’ test results. They said the states will continue to provide the Education Department with school-level data.

RICHMOND, Va.

Ex-governor and wife plead not guilty to selling influence

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that they traded their influence for tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans, and both will be allowed to remain free until their trial.

“It’s not guilty, your honor,” McDonnell said when asked his plea.

U.S. District Court Judge James R. Spencer set a July 28 start for a jury trial. The proceedings are expected to last five to six weeks.

An hour before pleading not guilty, the McDonnells were released on their own recognizance Friday but were ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak not to leave the country.

– From news service reports