Eighth Vicitm Dies From Injuries In Massive Montgomery County Pileup
Montgomery County, Illinois (May 20, 2023) – An eighth person has died from injuries suffered in the massive multi-vehicle pileup in Montgomery County, Illinois.
According to witness reports, visibility on Interstate 55 was near zero due to dust from nearby farming operations at the time of the crashes. Both directions of travel on I-55 were impacted by the dust, and there were several collisions on each side of the highway. Illinois State Police closed Interstate 55 in Montgomery County for nearly 24 hours to investigate the crashes, which they say involved upwards of 70 vehicles. Dust again caused closure of the highway the day after the accidents.
Victims identified by the Illinois State Police include a woman from Franklin, Wisconsin, who was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her daughter. Authorities have also identified a couple from Crystal Lake, Illinois and a couple from Champaign, Illinois. The eighth victim is a woman from nearby Sorento, Illinois.
A photographer for Associated Press captured images of burning vehicles amidst the wreckage. Extensive fire damage made identifying vehicles, drivers, and occupants challenging.
The Illinois State Police have multiple units specially trained to investigate fatal accidents involving large trucks and multiple vehicles. It may be months before a final crash 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.
In May 2002, a twelve-vehicle pile-up in southwest Missouri along Interstate 44 resulted in multiple fatalities. In that crash, heavy fog reduced visibility to near zero. Reduced visibility is a common danger on American highways, with smoke, dust, fog, snow, and rain being the most common causes. All drivers should be cautious in these conditions if they are unavoidable. Commercial truck drivers, over-the-road truckers, and bus drivers must use “extreme caution” in these conditions or stop driving.
Insurance companies and motor carriers operating trucks in the area reportedly had representatives at the crash scene gathering information, assessing their liability, and collecting favorable evidence. Drivers of passenger cars will depend on the State Police and investigators hired by their own lawyers to collect evidence that could help them in a lawsuit.
The many crashes on I-55 will lead to lawsuits involving these serious injuries and deaths. The defendants can 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.