Weather-related accidents shut down interstates

January 6, 2011 4:12:05 PM PST
Weather conditions caused numerous accidents on Chicago-area interstates 55, 57 and 80 Thursday.

Illinois State Police reported more than 30 accidents in the Will and Grundy County areas.

"This was really a quick snow. It made icy conditions. We had a semi in the median that was jackknifed, and then I guess when he came along, he lost it and flipped over," said Larry Kochel with Kochel Towing.

Authorities say there were at least 18 separate crashes reported on the north-south interstate near Interstate 80 and south of there.

Rollover accidents were also reported on Interstate 57 near the junction with I-80, and part of the interstate was also closed in the southbound direction near 127th Street.

"Those are hot spots where people lost control of their vehicles and crashed," Illinois State Police Sgt. Juan Valenzuela told ABC7 Chicago over the telephone.

Gary Billings was driving a bus full of students downstate for a theater program when he says road conditions suddenly changed.

I was coming down 294 and I hit 80, and saw a little bit of snow on the ground. Then I got to 57 and there was a little bit more snow, and then nothing but traffic," Billings said.

Westbound I-80 was at a standstill at approximately 10 a.m. with a semi-truck jackknifed near Torrence, while two people were hurt on northbound I-394 after a red Ford pickup hit a tree near Glenwood Dyer road, a state trooper said.

"The traffic wasn't moving. It was just odd because it was the middle of the afternoon. Then the bus driver noticed something was going on up ahead," said Sarafina Norman, who was stuck on I-57.

It wasn't much better on Interstate 55 outside of Joliet. That's where dozens of stranded motorists called help after weather related fender-benders and spin-outs.

"I've seen a couple of cars sliding and hitting brakes and whatnot, and then the gentleman next to us here spun across a couple lanes of traffic, and there was nowhere to go and here we are," said stranded motorist Bob Buelow.