I-55 briefly closed again due to visibility day after deadly dust storm crash

A portion of Interstate 55 in downstate Illinois was closed again for a few hours on Tuesday, a day after a windstorm kicked up dust that caused numerous crashes that left seven people dead and dozens more injured.

Illinois State Police said on Twitter that I-55 between mile markers 63 and 82 was closed in both directions as winds were again limiting visibility in the area.

"No crashes at this time, but out of an abundance of caution, ISP and Illinois Department of Transportation are closing southbound and northbound I-55 between mileposts 63 and 82, the same stretch as yesterday, due to high winds and low visibility," the tweet said.


State police said the stretch would remain closed until winds died down, and urged motorists to use alternate routes.

Around 7 p.m., ISP said both northbound and southbound lanes were reopened after winds decreased.

More than 70 vehicles, including dozens of commercial vehicles and passenger cars, were involved in crashes late Monday morning along a 2-mile stretch of Interstate 55 in Montgomery County, 75 miles north of St. Louis. The highway was closed in both directions after the crashes, but northbound and southbound lanes reopened around 6 a.m. Tuesday, Illinois State Police said.

The crashes involved 40 to 60 cars, along with tractor-trailers, two of which caught fire, Maj. Ryan Starrick said. The seven people who died were all in northbound lanes, while 37 people on both sides of I-55 were taken to hospitals.

Those hurt in the crash range in age from 2 to 80 and have injuries from minor to life-threatening, police said. One of the seven people killed was Shirley Harper, 88, of Franklin, Wisconsin. Efforts to identify the others continued.