CHANNAHON – State police said ice led to a chain reaction of five crashes involving 13 vehicles on Interstate 55 Monday morning.
The accidents, which included three semitrailers, started about 8 a.m. near the U.S. Route 6 interchange. Vehicles were sliding and spinning out, police said.
The crashes shut down northbound I-55 between U.S. Route 6 and Bluff Road for a couple of hours in the morning. One lane was opened later in the morning, but the highway was not fully reopened until 2 p.m.
“The first cars went into a ditch because of ice and the backup led to the other crashes,” Trooper DeAnn Falat said.
One pickup truck slid into the center ditch just north of Route 6 and a car did the same in the immediate area, but those vehicles did not collide, Falat said. No one was injured in those crashes.
But the backup caused two semitrailers, a GMC SUV, a Chevrolet Malibu, a Ford Fusion and a Kia to crash near Route 6 as well, Falat said. Three occupants from the passenger vehicles were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries.
Two more passenger vehicles crashed in a “minor rear-end collision about 1,000 feet south of Route 6,” Falat said. No one was injured there.
Finally, one semitrailer rear-ended a Cadillac SUV a quarter-mile north of Bluff Road. After knocking the SUV into the ditch, the truck continued into the back of a semitrailer carrying scrap metal and pushed that off the roadway, as well, Falat said.
The driver of the truck that hit the SUV and semitrailer was airlifted from the scene. The drivers of the other vehicles were hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jae Miller said “dense fog in the area” contributed to the crashes.
The weather was generally sunny Monday morning. One motorist in the area told The Herald-News that visibility was clear at the time of the accident. Police did not mention fog as a factor.