Overnight ice causes wreck that shut down I-24 westbound for several hours

Overnight ice causes wreck that shut down I-24 westbound for several hours
By: Arnold Wyrick
JOHNSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - As temperatures cooled on Monday night into early Tuesday morning roadways throughout the Heartland became slick and dangerous to travel. 
Police in southern Illinois say that's exactly what happened on Interstate 24 running through Johnson County and into Williamson County.

Shortly after 12:30 Tuesday morning a multiple car-truck accident halted traffic on Interstate 24 at the two-mile marker.  Two eighteen-wheelers and three passenger cars collided as they crossed over a ice covered bridge.  One of the tractor-trailers ended up flipping over and spilling it's load of an automotive absorbent all over the roadway.

Then a couple of hours later the second crash on Interstate 24 happened at the three-mile marker.

"This crash happened as a result of the previous crash at mile post number two," said Illinois State Trooper Sergeant Stephen Lawrence.

"The first semi-truck was traveling in the passing lane and the driver lost control sideswiping a jeep," Lawrence said.  "Then it continued and sideswiping another semi, causing both trucks to overturn."

Trooper Lawrence says that one of the truck was hauling cosmetics, wood flooring and a chemical liquid identified as potassium hydroxide.

"It has an inhalation warning of at least a hundred and fifty feet," Lawrence said.  "We had three 55-gallon drums thrown from the truck into the median.  So we brought out Freeman Environmental workers to contain the hazardous material."

One of the semi drivers was trapped inside.  It took emergency crews about an hour and a half to get the driver out.  A dispatcher tells Heartland News he is alive and will be taken to a local hospital.

Traffic had to be rerouted around the two crash scenes at the Vienna exit for more than 18 hours while crews removed all the debris on the roadway.

"This was a big mess to get cleaned up," Lawrence said.  "And this was all because of the icy road conditions we had late Monday night into Tuesday morning."

According to Williamson County dispatch four people were treated for minor injuries and two of them had to be taken to the hospital after the wreck at 12:30.

On top of these two large wrecks, the sheriff's department has worked at least three other crashes caused by icy roads around the county.