OGDEN — An “extreme crosswind during a rainstorm” is being blamed for a three-vehicle accident on Interstate 74 early Thursday that injured four men, one seriously.
Illinois State Police at Pesotum reported the accident happened at 6:32 a.m. and blocked the eastbound lanes of the interstate most of the day.
At 4:20 p.m., the passing lane on the eastbound side had reopened.
It started when a westbound semitrailer tractor truck, driven by Martin Wambui, 27, of Dallas, Texas, reported he was driving in the left lane and was passing an uninvolved semi when an extreme crosswind during a rain storm hit his rig.
He turned slightly against the crosswind and went into the median, breaking through the cable barrier and hit two eastbound vehicles head-on.
One was an Illinois Department of Transportation pickup truck driven by James A. Miller, 47, of Philo. The other was a FedEx semitrailer tractor truck driven by Matthew S. Branson, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.
Wambui had a passenger in his semi, Javier Franco, 43, of Seguin, Texas.
Police said all the men had to be cut out of their respective vehicles. The were taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where Wambui, Franco and Miller were treated and released by afternoon.
Hospital officials had no information on Branson’s condition but the state police release described his injuries as serious.
Police said Branson was not wearing a seat belt. All the other men were.
After the crash, the eastbound lanes were shut down at Ogden so that debris from the accident could be cleaned up and experts in accident reconstruction could investigate. Traffic was funneled off the interstate on to U.S. 150, creating a backup during the morning commute. One westbound lane was also closed for several hours.
Police said no tickets have been issued pending further investigation.