Illinois Chain Reaction Crash Confirmed to Have Claimed Seventh Victim
Authorities have announced that a seventh person has been confirmed dead following a catastrophic chain reaction crash that occurred on Monday in Illinois due to a sudden dust storm. The Illinois State Police reported that thirty-seven individuals were transported to local hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical. The victims were aged between 2 and 80 years old.
The accident occurred at around 11 a.m. local time on Interstate 55 in Montgomery County, according to authorities. Vehicle accidents were reported on both lanes of I-55 in a two-mile stretch. Approximately 72 vehicles were estimated to be involved in the incident, including two semi-trucks that caught fire, according to the police.
All seven fatal victims were discovered lifeless at the scene of the accident. The seventh fatality victim was not discovered until Tuesday, as what was initially believed to be one individual turned out to be two, the police said. "The severity of the crash obscured the remains," the police said in an update.
The cause behind the crash was the excessive winds that lifted dust from the fields and carried it onto the highway, according to Illinois State Police Major Ryan Starrick, who spoke during a press conference on Monday afternoon. The accident triggered a response from numerous emergency vehicles and multiple helicopters.
The Montgomery County Coroner's Office confirmed to ABC News the identity of one of the victims, Shirley Harper, an 88-year-old resident of Franklin, Wisconsin, who was traveling as a passenger in a vehicle driven by her daughter. Her daughter survived and is currently hospitalized, the authorities said.
Karen Leach, who was driving a motorhome from Illinois to Texas, told ABC News that she was stuck in traffic behind the massive crash for five hours. "It actually looked almost like snow when I sent them [my children] videos," said Karen, who was trapped in the storm. "And it feels like... like the end of the world."
It is expected that the stretch of I-55 where the accident occurred will remain closed for at least the night, said Starrick. "My team and I are closely following the devastating I-55 accident as authorities gather more information," tweeted Representative Nikki Budzinski. "Please stay safe as this situation continues to develop."
The same stretch of the interstate was closed again on Tuesday "due to strong winds and poor visibility," tweeted the Illinois State Police, noting that it was "out of caution," and there were no accidents.
Originally posted at Abogados de Choques