CHANNAHON TOWNSHIP – Four people are dead after an accident involving one semitrailer and three cars on Interstate 55 near Arsenal Road.
State police said it appears the semitrailer rear-ended the three vehicles as traffic was backed up due to construction work on the Des Plaines River Bridge.
Will County Coroner Patrick K. O'Neil said the victims' identities were being withheld Monday afternoon until their families could be notified.
The accident happened at 2:17 p.m. in the northbound lanes immediately south of mile marker 243.5 near the Exxon Mobil plant.
It was one of two accidents involving semitrailers that happened within a half-hour of each other in the same area, and that led to I-55 being shut down completely.
While the sequence of the fatal accident was not known Monday afternoon, the red semitrailer, which was carrying a flatbed trailer suffered heavy front-end damage. A nearby gray vehicle was mangled on both sides and entangled on the passenger side with the back of a red car. A few yards away a green vehicle had overturned in a ditch on the side of the road with two victims inside, according to police at the scene.
Traffic was diverted while the interstate and nearby frontage road were filled with emergency vehicles. Patients were taken from the scene by helicopter. Ambulances from Coal City, East Joliet and Minooka were among those at the scene.
Meanwhile, at 2:33 p.m. two semitrailers collided in the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 near the Route 6 overpass. State police said it appears that construction backup led to that crash, too, when one semitrailer rear-ended the other.
This is the second year of the Des Plaines River Bridge construction project. In 2013, there were 12 injury crashes, including two fatalities, due to sudden backups in the construction corridor.