Six people have died and more than 30 injured in a 90-vehicle pileup on Interstate 55 in Illinois that was blamed on a blinding dust storm.
"The cause of the crash is due to excessive winds blowing dirt from farm fields across the highway leading to zero visibility," Illinois State Police Maj. Ryan Starrick told NBC News.
Interstate 55 in southern Sangamon and northern Montgomery counties remains closed in both directions because of numerous crashes caused by a dust storm, which has greatly reduced visibility. (photo via @wics_abc20) pic.twitter.com/rYbWKndJa6— IDOT_Illinois (@IDOT_Illinois) May 1, 2023
Starrick said the stretch of the interstate would be closed until tomorrow because of the high number of crashed vehicles and casualties.
Massive pileup on I-55 south of Springfield, Illinois has closed the interstate for nearly 30 miles. Blowing dust off freshly plowed fields led to very low visibility#ilwx— Nick Hausen (@NickHausenWx) May 1, 2023
🎥: Nathan Cormier pic.twitter.com/im7QLE8BTp
Nathan Cormier was driving on the interstate and described what he saw to The Weather Channel:
"I saw the smoke cloud from a distance and I've driven through them before, you know, you put your hazards on, go slow ... And I moved to the left lane to get away out from behind a semi. And that's when I came across everything else stopped in the road."
Cormier described the scene as a "dust bowl."
“This is like 1930’s dust bowl.”— FOX Weather (@foxweather) May 1, 2023
A dust storm caused a major crash on I-55 south of Springfield, Illinois earlier Monday. Truck driver Nathan Cormier joined FOX Weather to recount his experience during the pile-up. #ILwx @IanOliverWX pic.twitter.com/nWDW353IH6
Starrick said dust storms similar to this one sometimes occur across Illinois during the planting season.
A total of ten helicopters were requested, with four on the scene. First responders requested 37 ambulances.