At least six people were killed and 37 people were injured in a 72-vehicle pileup on Monday morning near Farmersville, Illinois, according to authorities.
The survivors, whose ages ranged from 2 to 80, were sent to nearby hospitals with a variety of wounds, according to Illinois State Police. Several of whom reportedly have critical conditions.
“At 10:55 a.m. there was a crash on northbound Interstate 55 at Milepost 76. At the same time, there were numerous crashes on southbound Interstate 55 at Milepost 76. The crashes occurred within a two-mile stretch — from roughly Milepost 76 to Milepost 78,” the police statement read.
It continued: “Reports show there are six fatalities, all occurring in the northbound lanes. At this time, one decedent has been identified as 88-year-old Shirley Harper of Franklin, WI. The Montgomery County Corner’s Office is working diligently to identify the other five individuals and notify their families.”
Through the afternoon and into Tuesday morning, the lanes remained closed.
Title: Multiple-Vehicle Crash in Illinois Blamed on Dust Storm Creates Challenging Scene for First Responders
The Illinois Department of Transportation will have to inspect the road before it is reopened, the police said, adding that once the highway is clear of all vehicles.
Two or more of the implicated tractor-trailers caught fire.
Maj. Ryan Starrick of the State Police claimed that the dust clouds created by the windstorm were what led to the collision.
According to Starrick, the crashes were caused by strong gusts that blew dirt from farm fields across the highway, impairing vision.
The incident was a “very difficult scene,” according to Kevin Schott, director of emergency services for Montgomery County, and it was “very difficult to train for.”
Schott stated, “We had to search every car, whether they were in the accident or merely stopped, to look for injuries. Additionally, he noted that those involved appeared to be understandably upset.
The tweet below confirms the news:
DEVELOPING: "Multiple" people are dead after a dust storm caused dozens of vehicles to crash on an Illinois interstate, authorities say.
More than 30 people were transported to the hospital, according to state police. https://t.co/T1uotGreoW pic.twitter.com/XURkqsgM3T
— ABC News (@ABC) May 1, 2023
On April 30, at least two tractor-trailers involved in the collision caught fire. (IDOT)
Likewise, J.B. Pritzker, governor of Illinois, called the situation “horrific.”
“I am closely monitoring the horrific situation at the Macoupin and Sangamon County line on I-55. My team is in constant communication with the Illinois State Police, Department of Transportation, and Emergency Management Agency to ensure the safety of motorists as they navigate dangerous conditions,” Pritzker wrote in a statement.
He added: “On the ground, our first responders and emergency management teams are working diligently to clear the road, provide medical care to those in need, and collaborate with local officials to provide support to everyone affected by this tragic accident.”
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) May 1, 2023
At the time of the collision, wind gusts ranged from 35 to 45 mph.