All lanes reopened after semi trucks collide on I-80/94, driver freed

June 20, 2012 (HAMMOND, Ind.)

One of the drivers was trapped in his truck for several hours before emergency crews could get him out.

The crash happened just before 3 a.m., but traffic was still bumper to bumper eight hours later. Drivers had to endure a brutal traffic jam in the intense heat.

Authorities say the crash happened after Indiana State Police pulled over an impaired driver. One truck swerved to miss them and that truck was rear-ended by another truck near Cline Avenue on I-80, several miles east of the Illinois-Indiana border.

That second truck driver was put on a stretcher and airlifted to a Chicago-area trauma center after emergency responders freed the driver from the wrecked semi around 7 a.m.

"It was a very, very difficult extrication requiring special equipment that needed to be brought in by another ambulance," said University of Chicago's Dr. Reeo Kim.

The accident crippled the rush hour commute.

"It was pretty much bumper to bumper," said motorist Les Cheatham. "I thought I was going to run out of gas it was so jammed up."

The crash led state police to stop all eastbound traffic and shut down some westbound traffic as well.

Some lanes have been reopened, but the back-ups continued for hours.

A youth Muslim group on a peace trip to the East Coast had its plans derailed by the accident.

"We have to find an alternate route," said Kaashif Qaderi. "We've already searched our GPS on our phones, on our TomToms, and again the only thing we see is 80/94."

It is unclear exactly what caused the trucks to collide, but people who travel the Borman Expressway frequently say this is a dangerous stretch.

"I travel it every day to get to and from work, and there are accidents every single day," said Margarita Japkowski. "If it's not one accident, it's multiple accidents."

Japkowski is referring accidents such as the on April 4 in the eastbound lanes Of I-80/94 near Ripley: A semi crashed into a sign. There was another semi rollover accident near the same spot on June 15.

Some drivers say speed is one of the biggest problems.

"I was in the express lane, and I was going 15 mph, and everybody is riding on everybody's bumper," said Marie Basso.

Authorities were still clearing debris eight hours after Wednesday morning's crash.

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