PESOTUM — Illinois State Police at Pesotum called the winter storm that began Sunday, Jan. 5, among the worst in the district in years and have more than a thousand reasons.
A release from District 10 spokeswoman Trooper Tracy Lillard said that between Sunday and Friday, troopers responded to approximately 1,012 incidents including crashes, vehicles in the ditch, motorist assists, abandoned vehicles, and stranded motorists.
"I think that's a little above average," she said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. "I can remember about three storms that were almost as bad in the last 10 years."
Of those 1,012 incidents, troopers considered 700 to be motorist assists. Stranded motorists were taken to a place of safety for the night if their vehicle was stuck in the ditch or median, as it was unsafe to tow the vehicle out.
Troopers completed 62 crash reports for vehicles which sustained damage across the nine counties of the district — Champaign, Douglas, Coles, Vermilion, Edgar, Piatt, Moultrie, Macon, and Shelby. Only a handful of the crashes involved injuries. Most motorists slid off of the road or found themselves stuck in large snow drifts.
Troopers also completed 76 reports for vehicles which had to be towed for safety or crash investigation reasons.
"Every trooper reported for duty with a focus on saving lives and these efforts were remarkable," said Interim Commander Jamal Simington. "Many telecommunicators and officers worked long hours and stayed away from home overnight because they were not able to return to their residences due to road closures."
State police also got help from officers from the Department of Natural Resources who used snowmobiles to rescue motorists from stranded vehicle on Illinois 47 between Mahomet and Farmer City and at other locations.
"This weather event required many organizations to work together with a common purpose of serving the public and maintaining the safety of the motoring public. Many troopers, police officers, firefighters, and Illinois Department of Transportation employees placed themselves in harm's way throughout this storm. I thank everyone, including the warming centers, for their actions and support during this four-day period," Simington said.
Lillard also applauded local media for getting the word out about the dangers of traveling on the more dangerous days.
"The subzero temperatures and wind chills posed a life-threatening danger to motorists stranded on our roadways," said Lillard. "Remarkably, our district did not have any deaths on our roadways during this storm. Thank you to those who listened to the warnings."