19-vehicle pileup on I-57 injures 10 near Peotone

February 21, 2014 (PEOTONE, Ill.)

PHOTOS: Fiery 19-vehicle I-57 crash near Peotone

The crash involved seven semi trucks and at least 12 other vehicles, according to a release from state police.

At least one of the trucks caught fire after the crash, and at least 10 people were taken to area hospitals with non life-threatening injuries, according to the release. One vehicle had to be extricated from beneath a semi by firefighters at the scene.

State police said earlier that heavy fog caused the pileup about 4:25 p.m. on I-57 near Wilmington/Peotone Road.

All northbound and southbound lanes reopened as of about 10:30 p.m., according to a release from state police. The crash had caused closures and halted traffic for hours between Manhattan/Monee Road and Wilmington/Peotone Road.

On Thursday afternoon, five accidents were reported in the northbound lanes of I-57 near Peotone, and two in the southbound lanes. Thick smoke billowed and flames engulfed a semi.

"The emergency responders couldn't get to that accident because it was sandwiched in. then after that there was another accident and it kept going like that for miles," said Ken Bialek.

Emergency crews brought in extrication equipment and requested heavy cranes. Bialek took pictures of the fiery crash.

"Then the big semi was on fire, and none of the emergency responders could get to them because that was sandwiched all in, so it was just burning there," said Bialek. His wife, Lindsey, was driving in another car.

"It was pretty foggy. I know that picture looks pretty clear, but you couldn't see very well until you got up to it," said Lindsey Bialek.

Drivers reported clusters of accidents along the stretch, forcing state police to close a six-mile stretch of the road for hours.

"Unfortunately, you couldn't see, and that was probably the main reason and the culprit to this whole situation," said Chief Bill Schreiber, Peotone Fire District.

"Accidents and a bunch of cars just couldn't get through so everyone's just sitting around and trying to pull over to the side, and then more accidents. Then everyone would stop and they'd just start running into the back of them," said Ken Bialek.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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