UPDATED: Four injured in three-vehicle I-74 head-on collision

UPDATED: Four injured in three-vehicle I-74 head-on collision

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.



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787 wrote on April 03, 2014 at 10:04 am

What is it about a perfectly straight stretch of road, that people somehow can't navigate without causing a pile up?

bird8406 wrote on April 03, 2014 at 11:04 am

From what I could tell on my commute this morning (from the Fithian overpass and 150), this accident appeared to occur around the curvy area between the Ogden and Fithian exits near the county lines.  The timing of the accident also could coincide with the waves of heavy wind and rain we had this morning.

ATrain270 wrote on April 03, 2014 at 1:04 pm

It would likely be due to the fact that it was storming hard and visibility was very low this morning.  Tends to complicate the whole driving thing.  We should probably just hope everyone is okay.  Accidents happen.

y2jeh wrote on April 03, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Yeah...i've seen my fair share of accidents that are claimed to be caused by something, when in reality it's just someone doing something stupid to cause an accident. With that said though, my dad is a truck driver, and I do know how easy it is for high winds to affect his truck, especially a crosswind, so the reasoning behind the cause of this accident seems legit. Either way, i'm more worried about the fact one of the people involved wasn't wearing their seatbelt...i'm sorry, but that should just never happen. Hopefully he, and everyone else involved, regardless of the facts, are all going to be ok...

787 wrote on April 03, 2014 at 6:04 pm

...and I'm so glad that IDOT has spent millions and millions of dollars on these worthless cable barrier systems that semi trucks are able to drive right through.

Martin1 wrote on April 03, 2014 at 7:04 pm
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I totally agree on the "barrier" statement......there have been various accidents on 74 from University Ave to Oakwood. Has the barrier ever worked ??? Nope....and people have died.