Bois D’Arc Twp, Ill. – A massive pileup involving over 100 vehicles occurred on I-55 mileposts 72 to 77 early Monday afternoon, resulting in at least six confirmed deaths.
The accident was caused by a dust storm kicked up from fields at 10:55 a.m. that led to zero visibility on the highway. Illinois State Police report some 20 commercial vehicles, 40 to 60 passenger cars, and at least two truck tractor semi-trailers caught fire as a result of the crashes.
“At this time, we have reports of more than 30 people being transported to the hospital and multiple fatalities,” Illinois State Police said in a statement Monday afternoon. The accident resulted in numerous injuries, and the injured were immediately airlifted to nearby hospitals. Helicopters from several organizations, including Air Evac Lifeteam and AirMethods, were deployed to the scene.
Among the injured range in ages 2-80 years old.
According to Incident Command (IC), the incident was also reported as a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI), and five helicopters were deployed to the scene, while five others were disregarded. The authorities established reunification and unified command at the Divernon Town Hall, where two command posts and two reunification points were set up at the Coalfield Rest Area and Divernon Town Hall.
Several departments, including Hazmat crews, the Illinois State Police, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the accident. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and several county EMA teams provided assistance.
All lanes on I-55 are closed, as the roadway was shut down 28 miles in both directions. The Illinois Department of Transportation reported just before 5pm the roadway won’t open until Tuesday at the earliest.
The investigation is ongoing, and the authorities are yet to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the accident. Motorists are advised to exercise caution while traveling on I-55, especially during adverse weather conditions.