Three dead; 13 others injured in Interstate 57 crash in Coles County

Three dead; 13 others injured in Interstate 57 crash in Coles County

MATTOON - It will likely be late Tuesday afternoon before the names of three people killed Monday in an Interstate 57 chain reaction collision near Mattoon will be released.

Capt. Stuart Shaver of the Illinois State Police post at Pesotum said accident reconstruction specialists are investigating the nine-vehicle accident that left three dead and 13 others injured, at least two of them critically. No names have been released pending notification of family members and confirmation of identities by state troopers.

The accident happened about 5 p.m. Monday about 2 miles north of Mattoon when a Louisiana truck driver, who was looking down for his map, hit the back end of one vehicle that was almost stopped. That precipitated a chain reaction collision with eight other vehicles, including a sport utility vehicle that caught fire. The people who were killed were in that vehicle as was a fourth victim who has been taken to the burn center at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

"The accident did not occur in the zone. It occurred at the end of the traffic backup from the construction zone," Shaver said.

Traffic was backed up due to one of the northbound lanes being shut for resurfacing and drivers were having to merge from two lanes to one.

"There are holes cut into the interstate. It's not able to be opened," Shaver said. "Traffic was either creeping or stopped."

The interstate reopened about 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Eight people were taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center near Mattoon; five were taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

State police Sgt. Bill Emery said the truck driver was not injured but was taken to Sarah Bush for blood and urine tests.

Shaver and Emery said there were nine troopers assigned to the crash who were helped by Coles County sheriff's deputies, Mattoon police, and firefighters from the Mattoon, Lincoln Township and Arcola fire departments.

Emery said traffic was rerouted off I-57 at U.S 45 while the interstate was closed.

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JasonUSMC wrote on May 31, 2010 at 10:05 pm

To the families of the three women who perished,
I just wanted to say that I am so sorry that I could not get the doors open. I tried so hard. My heart is full of sorrow. I promise, I tried my hardest. I know that they are with GOD now and will be with you all forever.

denmother1 wrote on May 31, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I am so sorry you were there and could do nothing. Do you know at all where the car was from? I am trying to find out if one of my friends was in the car?

JasonUSMC wrote on May 31, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I could not tell where the car was from. All I know is that it was a small SUV type car (newer) 3 caucasian women in their 40's (roughly). I pray that it was no one you know.

angelisaweaver wrote on June 01, 2010 at 1:06 am
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they were from Mississippi. My mother-in-law and my cousins. headed to central Illionois to Amish convention or something like that! Wonderful, beautiful, christian ladies who will be greatly missed! Thanks to all who tried to help! We are grateful! :(

mspontiac wrote on June 01, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I am so sorry; please accept my condolences to you and your family.

angelisaweaver wrote on June 01, 2010 at 2:06 pm
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Thank you! We are just sick over this senseless tragedy!

CU-Mommy wrote on June 01, 2010 at 8:06 am

Thank you for being a Good Samaritan Jason!

semper fi

angelisaweaver wrote on June 01, 2010 at 1:06 am
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GOD BLESS U! Thank you for trying! The three women were from Mississippi; left home this morning head to central Illionois somewhere to the Amish convention or something like that! We are devastated! One of the women was my mother-in-law (my oldest son's grandmother) she was a beautiful christian lady, retired from over 20 years with United States Post Office. Was actuall post master for several years b4 retiring a few years ago. The other two that were killed were my cousins (they were mother and daughter) the driver, I think she was driving? Anyway the one that survived was the other daught and the sister of the other two that were killed. Those three wee my cousins! the survivor is in the burn center in springfield i believe! we have no word yet of how bad she is burned! At least i don't know yet. Again thanks to all that tried to help.

Colleen wrote on June 01, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Jason - Thank so much for your attempts at saving my aunt and cousins and their friend. I believe you when you said you tried your hardest. I know when a Marine says, "I tried my hardest" it was a superior effort. Be at peace.

courtneydidon wrote on June 01, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Jason, You dont know me but you saved my mothers life in that wreck. For that Jason I am forever thankful for you and you are my hero. Her name is Deborah Faust. Thank you is far from what you deserve for the heroic efforts. My family would like to personally thank you for everything you did. Please email me at Again..........THANK YOU. I know you did your best and that is all we can ask. The other ladies in that vehicle were my Aunt Sheila (my mommas sister) My Mammaw Hall (their mother) and Mrs. Doris Mayo (a friend of theirs from church). All were christian ladies and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know they are with Jesus and are living the life we all will live one day. I just neede to Thank you! God Bless You and Your Family. For YOU you have done more than you will ever know.

denmother1 wrote on June 01, 2010 at 12:06 am

Thank you so much for replying, as yet I don't know if my friend was involved as I cannot get a hold of her. I hope you can at some point find a peace that you did all you could and please know that you are in my prayers.

atlkm wrote on June 01, 2010 at 12:06 am

We passed by this horrific accident shortly after it happened and have thought about it ever since. Our hearts and prayers are with everyone involved, especially those who lost love ones. And for those who helped, may you be blessed for trying to rescue the three who passed. RIP

julianhooligan wrote on June 01, 2010 at 12:06 am

So the line of traffic leading up to this construction zone was 3 miles long. I suppose that there were no traffic warnings about the construction that were out 3 miles before the slow down...just cars unexpectedly screeching and smoking to a sudden halt as they tried to merge. I see accidents similar to this all to0 often as I travel on the Illinois Interstates.

These deaths were preventable and are again on the construction company and our highway safety department! Why can't the construction companies be forced to ensure that meaningful warnings are placed well in advance of the place where vehicles are going to be coming to a stop on the Interstate. We get all of the indoctrination about not hitting a construction worker in a work zone but no reciprocation from the construction companies...this one accident just surpassed the total construction workers deaths for the year.

Also, isn't 3 miles of a traffic jam up too long. Can't there be better planning to ease these long lines. They are going to make a single lane 13 miles long both ways on the interstate between Mattoon and Champaign...can't we expect huge traffic jam ups here too. The state highway department has got to step in and come up with a better solution...other states do it, why can't we.

Keep your eyes open as you travel people! The state doesn't give a crap about you as an individual.

spede1 wrote on June 01, 2010 at 1:06 am

I went through this construction around 5pm. The traffic jam was greater than 3 miiles. There was a sign that said "right lane closed" about three miles before the construction. The problem was that cars were backed up for more than three miles. It took us over an hour to get past the construction.

Yes these deaths were preventable. 1) IDOT needs better indication of construction zones 2) the truck driver should have been paying attention to his driving and the road instead of fumbling with a map..

Trailmom wrote on June 01, 2010 at 9:06 am

I travel that road a lot. There are signs everywhere, "Road Construction in 12 miles", "Road Construction 5 miles" and continuous updates in regular signs and flashing signs as you approach the site. The fault here is not with the road construction crew, it was with a truck driver who was distracted. Handling something the size of a semi-truck, driving at interstate speeds, and you look down? Let's back off the road crews, and remember that driving is a privilege which comes with responisibilities including watching the road and being aware of what is happening around you!!!

peabody wrote on June 01, 2010 at 9:06 am

Before we put the whole transportation system on trial let's remember the root cause of this tragedy -- the truck driver was fumbling for his map as he was speeding down the interstate! Of course we all want to find ways to prevent these things from happening, but what in the name of God can we do to stop human stupidity? Peace be with the dead and injured, their families, and the trucker who must live with his mistake.

prncesssly wrote on June 01, 2010 at 9:06 am

I was about 500 ft. or less from the accident. I missed it probably by less than 2 minutes. There WAS a sign about 2-3 miles before the pileup that said 'be prepared to stop'. This was well before the construction because I was still going 65 mph. People just need to pay attention to their surroundings. The signs are there if you are paying attention.

VF wrote on June 01, 2010 at 10:06 am

I too was just ahead of the accident. The merge signs were 3 miles ahead of the construction. The construction warning signs were farther out than that. People simply don't pay attention to the warning and merge ahead of time. They drive right up to the lane closure and then try to cut in causing the huge back ups that resulted in this accident. The traffic came to a stand still about 4 miles out. When we got to the "Right lane closed in 3 miles" sign I witnessed car after car that were actually leaving the left lane and going into the right lane to try and drive ahead of all the cars that had merged, and then attempt to cut back in at the front. I think IDOT had this marked as well as they could be expected to. If anything maybe a little bit of preemptive law enforcement rather than reactive law enforcement could have levitate some of the congestion. I watched 9 State troopers respond to the accident. I saw none that were attempting to remedy the problem.

nscates08 wrote on June 01, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Was northbound. Got directed to 45 North from exit South of Arcola and traffic stopped. Headed east at first opportunity and took 130 all the way up into Urbana. Surprisingly very little traffic on 130. Sad situation.

roselynn_77 wrote on June 01, 2010 at 1:06 pm

1st off I want to offer my condolences to the family members of the deceased and injured persons of this terrible accident. I am truely sorry for your losses. And 2nd I am totally appauled at the amount of uninteligence of those whom want to blame it on the construction workers or IDOT. My father was one who ran the asphalt paver for 45 years of his life and every single day he risked his life to go to work to make the roads safe for you. But it's the PEOPLE who don't give enough care to slow down and pay attention to the road that kills people. How dare you even think to blame it on the road workers. I have family and friends right now who are working at that exact construction site, and everyday I hear about how dangerous it is to be working out there simply because of idiot drivers. So next time you think you want to blame anyone but the true person at fault (semi driver), you should probably think again, before voicing a negative opinion about those who are working hard to keep your roadways safe. SLOW DOWN!! The starbucks will still be there 15 minutes later.

cione wrote on June 04, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Hats off to the construction workers who risk their lives. They do amazing work! And, they do risk their lives, and thank God and for the awareness that the state has made of construction workers so many people slow way down now when workers are present! This is an accident and no one is to blame. It is just as much the responsiblity of the state to make drivers aware and post larger flashing signs to warn of stopped traffic to better protect citizens.. It's not the construction workers responsible for's the government. I was one of the first on the scene of the accident and have travelled through the same site twice since then. The amazing thing is that the cones that were blocking the road on Memorial Day were taken down the very next day to open all lanes. There wasn't adequate warning signs that traffic was stopped and if the construction was finished on that particular stretch of road why were'nt the cones taken down before Memorial Day (one of the busiest travelling days of the year) so the traffic wouldn't have to be stopped! There is a curve in the road about 1/4 mile before the accident site, which poses more room for error. The state should do better! Instead of spending money on signs give credit the reinvestment act why not invest in protecting drivers by posting huge flashing warning signs that say STOPPED TRAFFIC 2 MILES AHEAD! Many other states do it! It wasn't adequately markded and should have been opened up for the traffic because the construction was done!!! Everyone has glanced away from the road for a couple seconds now and then, and that's all it would take to miss one of Illinois's little signs that say "lanes merge" Very irresponsible on the state's part!

mspontiac wrote on June 01, 2010 at 2:06 pm

This is such terrible news. How quickly our lives can be taken away or changed deepest sympathies to the families and friends of everyone involved.

julianhooligan wrote on June 01, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I was just on I-55 two weeks ago going from Springfield to St. Louis and back. Going both ways there were major construction delays such that traffic had to come to a complete stop on the Interstate. There were no adequate signs warning people that they would have to stop. The result of this unexpected stoppage was cars skidding to a halt with accidents in both directions with people lying in the medians. I saw this on the way down and on the way up.

I came upon the construction north of the Mattoon area last night and there was NOT adequate warning that traffic would be coming to a stop on the interstate. This was the root cause of the accident. The construction companies could easily have put up the warnings but are not made to by the state. The construction companies could also have made better planning to eliminate the complete stoppage but they are not made to be efficient by the state.

These deaths were completely preventable.

tbarrio wrote on June 01, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I am the daughter in law of the truck driver, I understand that it was his fault but it was not done intentionally... I have seen a lot of people talking about this wreck all morning on all kinds of sites and they are ALL downing the truck driver, no one should be pointing fingers he knows its his fault so why do you feel the need to down him?? Him along with his wife and family are all taking this VERY HARD and all tho he WAS the cause of this wreck he does NOT deserve all the bad things people are saying about him...He is just as emotionally drained as everyone else is that is in this situation and no this was NOT human stupidity like someone said, it was a accident.... I can see if he was on the phone or had drugs or alcohol in his system but he DID NOT... He made a mistake and trust me he is paying for it and him along with his wife does not need anyone telling him that he was wrong.. He is a very big hearted person and is taking this really really hard, my husband had to fly down there today to be with him.. I can only imagine what the family's of the loved ones who were killed are going through.. ALL OF OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GO OUT TO ALL THAT WERE AFFECTED IN THIS TRAGIC ACCIDENT AND OUR SYMPATHY GOES OUT TO THE FAMILY OF THE LOVED ONES WHO DID NOT MAKE IT... May god give them peace and strength to get through this time of need...

Duane Motes wrote on June 01, 2010 at 6:06 pm

My Mothers Sister is one of the deceased and she is praying for all who were involved including the truckdriver My family understands accidents happen, I will miss my aunt

tbarrio wrote on June 01, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss…our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time. We pray the love of God enfolds you during your journey through grief.
We send you thoughts of comfort. Please accept our condolences

mscook wrote on June 01, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I'm sorry so many are giving your father-in-law such a bad time, we all have swerved into the other lane or off of the shoulder trying to retrieve a cell phone, ink pen, etc., we all need to pay attention to our mistakes. We don't really realize that " a split second" is less time than we think. We have ALL made these mistakes and wouldn't want to take someone's life for anything.Yes, it was preventable, but we've all made mistakes, we're human. He didn't mean to do it. I know all of these women, they are in heaven now and not one of them would hate him. They are all Christians and would probably ask him to sit down at their kitchen table in heaven and with a smile would say" Come on in, suppers ready." Because that's the kind of people these ladies were. Full of love and forgiveness.

courtneydidon wrote on June 02, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Hi I am the daughter of one of the accident victims. My mother is fighting for her life from burns among other things from your father in laws simple "glance" at a map. I am the granddaughter to one of the women that lost their life due to a simple "glance" at a map. I am the neice to a woman who lost their life due to a simple "glance" at a map. What infuriates me the most is a few things.....#1.. A truck driver sits up higher off the road than any other vehicle and YOU are trying to tell me he DID NOT see that traffic was slowing ahead when MY MOTHER, AUNT, AND GRANDMOTHER driving in a Envoy could? COME ON NOW........REALITY HERE. #2..Truck drivers make enough money to invest in this little device that mounts on your windshield or dashboard called a GPS....hands free, eyes on the road at ALL times, no need to "glance" down at a map when the thing TALKS to you. Wether it is his personally owned rig or a company rig it is his duty to be safe at all cost on the road. A simple GPS runs about 115 dollars at Walmart. I personally think that all rigs be MANDATORY to have a WORKING AND ACCURATE GPS on their rig. And hey get this..........IT TELLS YOU WHERE CONSTRUCTION SITES ARE! So the driver can be prepared to slow down or STOP in time and NOT when peoples lives are taken from them.

dad of 2 wrote on June 01, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I drove over the road for about 5 years by far not enough to be perfect. The root of this deadly accident was and is improper trip planning. First thing you are supposed to do is properly plan your route so you are not needed to look at a map while driving. Also if you do need to look at your map PULL over than take it out. My thoughts and prayers to the victims and the families.

dsample wrote on June 01, 2010 at 7:06 pm

First, I submit prayers of peace and forgiveness on behalf of all involved to our Lord and Savior. I came upon the accident scene last night and was rerouted as well as hundreds of others. The sight was one of disbelief and my heart grieved and instantly prayed for all involved. At that moment I knew that a multitude of pain was unfolding in many different directions. Pain of the family members who just received word that their love one was gone, pain for those who are in the hospital, pain for the person who may have caused this unfortunate accident, pain of the emergency staff, pain for the passers by who were just helpless. I do not know the truck driver or anyone involved but I grieve for each and everyone as each one's grief will be different. Lord, I ask that each person be comforted and given to them the touch of our loving Father.

Michelle wrote on June 01, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Jason- I am a very close family friend to 2 of the ladies that past and the lady that is currently in the hospital. You have no kind of idea what an angel you are. You were meant to be there at this certain time and we appreciate your effort so much. These ladies were exceptional people and will be dearly missed. You have a very special place in all our hearts. Again, thank you so much!

mswats1 wrote on June 01, 2010 at 9:06 pm


gordnfan wrote on June 01, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I want to start by saying that I am sorry to all who were involved (including the truck driver). Accidents happen everyday. I have worked construction now for a few years and trust me posted or not posted most people DONT slow down. And before anyone sits and says what the state laws that govern construction sites are, maybe you should do your homework! People need to STOP driving with the "IT CANT HAPPEN TO ME ATTITUDE!" I and many others risk our lives everyday to make the roads better for you, and I know that my three children would like it very much if the general public would slow down and pay attention on the roads! The accident may have been caused by this one man, but there are so many that are guilty of doing the same thing, so dont lay in judgment!

NanSmith wrote on June 02, 2010 at 11:06 am

I am the neice of Sheila Douglas, one of the ladies who lost her life. Looking at things from outside, one might say that you are right, that people should not say things mean or hurtful to your father-in-law, I mean he said he didn't mean to do it. Well, looking at it from the inside, where as her family and ones who loved her very much have no choice, we see it a little different. Someone saying they are sorry or that they didn't mean to do something doesn't make it ok or hurt any less. You look at things and see your father-in-law sad, upset and maybe a little hurt. I look at things and I see my cousins who are having to bury their mom, I see them on Mothers Day not having their mother to wrap there arms around and say I love you to, I see my Aunt Sheila's grandchildren, who she loved more than the air she breathed, on any given day not able to walk over to her house and eat the cookies or pies she made for them for no other reason than just because she loves them, I see the hurt of the family that has lost a very special part. Maw-Nita wasn't my grandmother but I grew up with her in my family and loved her. I see Aunt Sheila's boys not only loosing their mom but their grandmother who they adored. I see my Aunt Deb fighting for her life. I see my sister-in-law (Aunt Deb's daughter) wanting to do something for her mom and hurting because she can't. Your father-in-law didn't just take the lives of 3 women, he took parts of more lives than he will ever know. You want to defend him and take up for him and I guess on some level I admire you for the loyality you show him. You see him as somewhat of a victim, well you will have to excuse the rest of us who see things quite differently. I know my Aunt Sheila and Maw-Nita are looking at me and saying...Now Nan, you shouldn't be like this...they always were better women than I could ever hope to be.

angelisaweaver wrote on June 02, 2010 at 11:06 am
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After the initial shock is beginning to wear off and the impulse to lay blame SOMEWHERE; ANYWHERE! is starting to subside, I feel the need to post this awesome story and say to the truck driver and his family.... GOD BLESS U AND MAY THE LORD BE WITH U AND UR FAMILY.

angelisaweaver wrote on June 02, 2010 at 11:06 am
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Someone made the statement: "To err is dysfunctional, to forgive
Co-dependent." Sometimes I think I operate that way - afraid to err
And slow to forgive.

Of course, we've all heard Alexander Pope's famous assertion that to
Err is human, to forgive, divine. But I don't agree. I think that to
Forgive is one of the most human things we can do.

A number of years ago, Hildegard Goss-Mayr of the "International
Fellowship of Reconciliation" told this true story. In the midst of
Tragic fighting in Lebanon in the 1970s, a Christian seminary
Student was walking from one village to the next when he was
Ambushed by an armed Druze guerrilla fighter. The Druze ordered his
Captive down a mountain trail where he was to be shot.

But an amazing thing happened. The seminarian, who had received
Military training, was able to surprise his captor and disarm him.
Now, the table was turned, and it was the Druze who was ordered down
The trail.

As they walked, however, the student of theology began to reflect on
What was happening. Recalling the words of his scripture, "Love your
Enemies," "do good to those who hate you," "turn the other cheek,"
He found he could go no farther. He threw the gun into the bushes,
Told the Druze he was free to go and turned back up the hill.

Minutes later, he heard footsteps running behind him as he walked.
"Is this the end after all?" he wondered. Perhaps the young man had
Retrieved his weapon and meant to finish him off. But he continued
On, never glancing back, until his enemy reached him, only to grab
Him in an embrace and pour out thanks for sparing his life.

That was a very human thing he did - foregoing the impulse to strike
Back. It took a strong spirit. Yet every time we decide not to get
Back at somebody who hurts us, we exercise one of our greatest
Powers - the power to choose a better way.

Somebody else put it better than I can: "Life is too short for drama
And petty things, so, kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and
Forgive quickly." It's one of the most powerful and human things to

written by ~Steve Goodier

We only live once and if we do it right; once is enuff!

praying4u wrote on June 02, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I passed by this accident (on the opposite side) on my way from a convention in Chicago. I saw them putting the fire out. Never seen so many cars involved before. Just wanted to let the families of the lost and injured that you are in my prayers. I couldn't get the scene out of my mind. May God bless and comfort you all!

jlee95 wrote on June 03, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I was about 10-15 cars ahead of this accident crawling along. I am still haunted by what little I did see and then to read what actually happened. I pray for all those involved to heal emotionally and physically. I looked back and saw all the smoke and saw people going south running to try to help but I couldn't have imagined it was as bad as a semi slamming into the stopped traffic. As my adorable 14 month old baby girl slept soundly in the back seat I can only imagine how easily that could have been us involved. And I can say that I saw the signs warning "be prepared to stop" but I think because it was a holiday people didn't think there would be workers and that traffic wasn't going to be affected by road construction. Needless to say, I'm thankful I didn't witness that horrible event as I am still bothered by how close it was.

cione wrote on June 04, 2010 at 5:06 pm

My heart and prayers go out to all the families involved in the accident. I was one of the first on the scene. We cannot know your pain. All pitched in to help in rescuing your family members. I'm so sorry for your loss. I was praying for your family during the accident. And, for the driver I'm sorry for your pain. Just know all are in my thoughts and prayers.