Fatal Illinois semi accident involves 9 vehicles; distracted trucker may be to blame

Three women were killed last Monday and a dozen injured in an Illinois semi accident authorities believe may have been caused by a distracted trucker.

The Chicago Tribune reported the accident happened on I-57 north of Mattoon when the tractor trailer crashed into a group of cars slowing for construction. The chain-reaction collision involved at least 9 vehicles, many of which were completely destroyed. The Coles County coroner’s office reported there women — ages 61, 68 and 80 — were killed after the SUV they were traveling in was crushed by the truck.

Cause of the accident remains under investigation by the Illinois State Police. Police tested the blood and urine of the 55-year-old Louisiana truck driver but have no indication that drugs are alcohol are involved. However, a state police Captain said the crash was likely caused by driver inattention.

A patrol captain also said the driver had “discrepancies in his log book.” Truck drivers are required to obey strict safety regulations, including hours on the road and hours of rest, to help insure the safety of other motorists.

One of the SUVs rolled into the median where it caught fire. Another was crushed beyond recognition. Somehow, an 11-year-old girl was able to crawl out of the wreckage. Injury victims were taken to hospitals located throughout the area, including Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and Sara Bush Lincoln Health Center in Coles County.

The women who were killed were members of a Baptist church group traveling to Amish country. The Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette reported that two others were critically injured.

The highway was closed for nearly 8 hours.

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