Dust Clouds Reduce Visibility On Illinois Interstate, Multiple Fatalities Reported
Montgomery County, Illinois (May 3, 2023) – The Illinois State Police are continuing their investigation of a massive multivehicle pileup on northbound I–55 between St. Louis and Springfield, Illinois. Dozens of passenger cars and semi-tractor-trailers were involved in a series of collisions that killed seven people and seriously injured dozens more. The incident caused both southbound and northbound lanes of Interstate 55 in Montgomery County to be closed for nearly 24 hours.
The first victim identified by the Illinois State Police is an 88-year-old woman from Franklin, Wisconsin, who was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her daughter. The driver received only minor physical injuries in the crash but will live with the trauma of the catastrophe and the loss of her mother less than two weeks before Mother’s Day.
Illinois State Police have asked for the public’s help in identifying two victims of the crash, one believed to be the driver of a Chrysler 300 passenger car. The unusual request for public help suggests that the victims were driving alone and that their vehicles may have burned, damaging, or destroying evidence that could have helped identify them for their families and loved ones. A photographer for Associated Press captured images of burning vehicles, but the smoke, flames, and damage make identifying vehicles challenging.
The Illinois State Police have multiple units specially trained to investigate fatal accidents involving large trucks and multiple vehicles. The magnitude of this accident will strain the resources of the Illinois State Police and may require months of investigation before a final report is completed.
Reports of low visibility due to dust blowing across the interstate between mile markers 76 and 78 made driving conditions dangerous. In low visibility conditions, commercial motor vehicles are required to slow down or cease operation entirely. Whether any tractor-trailer drivers failed to comply with this requirement is unknown but will be a focus of the investigation. Authorities report that area farmers may have contributed to the dust clouds that rolled across the interstate and reduced visibility.
Insurance companies and motor carriers operating trucks in the area would typically have representatives at the scene gathering information soon after the first report of an accident, assessing their potential liability and collecting favorable evidence. Drivers of passenger cars will depend on the State Police and investigators hired by their own attorneys to collect evidence that could help them in the event a lawsuit is filed.
Interstate 55 reopened to northbound traffic on May 2, 2023.
The many crashes on I-55 will lead to lawsuits involving these serious injuries and deaths. The defendants might include drivers of passenger cars, drivers of trucks, motor carriers, brokers, shippers, and even farmers whose tilling and cultivating reportedly caused the dust clouds. Cases involving limited visibility, multiple defendants, multiple vehicles, and commercial trucks are complex and best handled by attorneys with experience dealing with motor carrier regulations. Konicek & Dillon P.C. has the experience and resources needed to handle these matters well. To the victims of these horrible crashes, we offer our condolences and assistance.