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.