Officials reported that a dust storm resulted in over 70 vehicles colliding on a major highway in central Illinois on Monday, leading to the tragic deaths of at least six individuals. The collisions occurred before 11 a.m. CT in Montgomery and Sangamon counties, located south of the state capital, as the newly plowed fields released dust, causing reduced visibility and engulfing the highway. Sangamon County is home to Springfield, the state capital.
According to Illinois State Police, six individuals lost their lives in the accidents, while 37 others were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. The age of the injured individuals varied from 2 to 80 years old, as stated by Illinois State Police Major Ryan Starrick.
Authorities reported that one of the deceased individuals was Shirley Harper, an 88-year-old resident of Franklin, Wisconsin, as announced by the police on Monday evening. The identification of the remaining five victims was still underway, and their families were yet to be notified, the police confirmed.
The crashes involved a total of 72 vehicles and occurred over a 2-mile section of I-55, with two semi-trucks also catching fire.