Six Dead, Over 30 Injured in Multi-Vehicle Crash Caused by Dust Storm on Interstate 55 in Illinois
A multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 55 in south-central Illinois caused by a dust storm has left six people dead and over 30 others injured. The accident, which involved up to 90 vehicles, occurred due to excessive winds blowing dirt from farm fields across the highway, leading to zero visibility. The victims range in age from 2 to 80 years old, and some have suffered life-threatening injuries. Forty to 60 passenger vehicles and at least 30 commercial vehicles were involved in the crash, including two semi-trucks that caught fire. The crash closed I-55 in both directions for miles between Divernon and Farmersville, outside of Springfield. It is anticipated that the road will continue to be inaccessible until Tuesday afternoon.
Dust storms like this are not uncommon in Illinois, although they are rare enough that emergency responders find them challenging to train for. The National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois, issued a “blowing dust warning” at 1:25 p.m. CT, but the accident had already occurred by that time. The gusts of wind between 35-45 miles per hour blew dust up into the air, which resulted in low visibility and a multi-car pileup.
Illinois State Police Maj. Ryan Starrick said dust storms like this have happened before on Illinois roads “where unfortunately you have excessively high winds.” This blows the topsoil from fields across the roads. Starrick added that the highway would remain closed until late morning or early afternoon Tuesday as crews work to remove the dozens of vehicles from the roadway.
US congresswoman Nikki Budzinski of Illinois expressed her condolences on Twitter, saying, “My heart goes out to the families. Please be safe as this situation continues to unfold.
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