UNINCORPORATED WILMINGTON, Ill. (WLS) --A crash that killed four women near southwest suburban Elwood was apparently caused by a speeding semi truck, police said Monday night.
Four women died in the multiple vehicle crash around 2:30 p.m. on Monday on I-55 North near Arsenal Rd., Illinois State Police said. Four other people were injured and airlifted to area hospitals. They remained hospitalized Monday night with serious injuries.
PHOTOS: 4 dead in I-55 multi-vehicle crash
In one car, two of its three occupants were killed in the crash that police think was caused by a speeding trucker. The truck slammed into three cars, crushing them against another semi.
"The witnesses the truck passed told us the truck was driving at a high rate of speed in their estimation and traffic was all at a dead stop as it was merging," said Cmdr. Randy Ness, Illinois State Police.
State police say a red truck and its driver caused the crash. The ABC7 I-Team reports the truck is registered to Espinal Trucking out of Leesburg, Ind. Federal records indicate its one vehicle company with a single owner operator. The firm has never been linked to previous fatal crashes and passed its most recent inspection.
Nonetheless, the driver is now the focus of the investigation and has undergone drug and alcohol testing.
"Our investigating officers, commercial vehicle officers, are all looking into his log books - everything related to his driving," said Ness.
The crash backed up traffic in both directions on I-55 for nearly a dozen miles. Northbound I-55 has reopened at Arsenal Rd. after it was closed for several hours during the Monday evening rush hour.
State police continue to interview the driver. No charges have been filed.
This is the second year of the Des Plaines River bridge project. State police records reveal 12 injury crashes in the construction zone last year, two of them fatal. Monday's crash was the first fatal one in the construction zone this year.
"Ten years I've been driving, I've seen things that'll make moist people curdle," said Walter Topp, trucker.
Just a few miles south of the crash, one person died in an unrelated crash involving three semi-tractor trailers on southbound I-55 near Route 6, Illinois State Police said.