At least six people lost their lives, and 37 others were injured in a massive 70-vehicle pileup in central Illinois on Monday, May 1, 2023, caused by a dust storm that resulted in severely reduced visibility. The tragic incident occurred along Interstate 55 in Montgomery and Sangamon counties, south of the state capital, Springfield.
According to Illinois State Police, the dust storm was caused by strong winds blowing dirt from freshly plowed fields across the highway. Injured individuals ranged in age from 2 to 80 years old, and their conditions varied from minor to life-threatening. Among the fatalities was Shirley Harper, 88, from Franklin, Wisconsin. Authorities are working to identify the remaining victims and inform their families.
The pileup, which took place along a 3.2 km (2 miles) stretch of I-55, involved 72 vehicles, including two semi-trucks that caught fire. The interstate in southern Sangamon and northern Montgomery counties remained closed late Monday as officials investigated the incident and cleared the vehicles.
The National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois, issued a “blowing dust warning,” alerting residents to severely limited visibility and advising people with respiratory issues to stay indoors until the storm passes. Winds across the region were gusting between 56 – 72 km/h (35 – 45 mph) during the event.
Drivers said there was zero visibility on the road once they entered the cloud. This left many of them without time to hit the brakes, slamming into cars and trucks in their path.
1 Illinois dust storm pile-up crash on I-55 involving 72-vehicles leaves 6 dead, over 30 injured – ABC7 Chicago – May 2, 2023
Featured image credit: Illinois State Police
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.