At least six people are dead and more than 35 injured after a sudden dust storm passed through Illinois Monday and caused a multi-vehicle pileup, state police said.
High winds blew dirt through Montgomery County, Illinois, beginning around 10:55 a.m., causing “zero visibility” on Interstate 55, Illinois State Police Major Ryan Starrick said at a news conference.
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More than 70 cars and trucks were involved in the crashes, including 20 commercial vehicles, and at least 37 people were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. The youngest injured was 2, and the oldest was 80, police said.
Kevin Schott, director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency, said the biggest challenge was trying to get to victims quickly.
“We had multiple vehicles involved,” he said. “Some were on fire, so we had vehicle fires to extinguish. We had to search every vehicle whether they were involved in the accident or just pulled over to check for injuries, try getting them out of there rapidly and getting them to the hospital so that we can provide professional care for them.”
More than 30 agencies responded to the scene, police said.
Starrick said the main priorities now are recovering the vehicles that were affected and assessing and reopening the road.