A massive five-vehicle pileup occurred on a stretch of westbound Interstate 64 near the southwestern Illinois city of New Baden Friday, critically injuring one man. Reports say that the fiery, chain-reaction crash involved a pickup pulling a trailer, a U-Haul box truck pulling a trailer, a tractor-trailer, an SUV, and a flatbed semi truck.
The crash remains under investigation, but authorities suspect that slowed traffic near an interstate construction zone was a factor. According to state police, both the U-Haul truck and the pick-up truck were slowing or stopped in traffic before a construction zone. A tractor trailer apparently failed to slow down in time and crashed into the U-Haul, pushing it into the pickup. The Chevrolet SUV was able to stop in time but a flatbed semi-truck struck it in the rear and pushed it into the crash. The U-Haul, pick-up, and the semi then caught on fire.
Another motorist pulled the driver of the tractor trailer from his burning rig. The man was then airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital, where he was treated for life-threatening injuries. None of the other eight motorists was injured except for the driver of the flatbed semi, who received minor injuries.
At a speed of just 55 mph, a semi truck’s stopping distance is 100 yards — the length of a football field and more than twice the stopping distance of a mid-size automobile. Other factors besides speed, such as the weight of the vehicle and its cargo and pitch of the road, also influence how much distance a truck needs to safely stop.
KMOV St. Louis reporter blogged that there were no signs warning of a construction zone where the accident occurred. One of the station’s viewers reported that she got caught up in traffic on the same stretch of highway the day before and never saw any signs warning of construction or otherwise indicating a possible slowdown or stop in traffic.