EL PASO, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 100 vehicles were stalled on I-39 Thursday night into Friday morning as a substantial snowstorm ripped through Central Illinois.
At noon on Friday, the Illinois State Police (ISP) announced the northbound lane was open, and hours later, the agency reopened the rest of the highway.
A preliminary investigation into the blockage showed that 19 semis and nine standard vehicles were involved in a crash. This led to a backup of more than 100 cars along the roadway.
Numerous other vehicles slid off the roadway but were not damaged, and several more semis reportedly spilled on and around the roadway.
All drivers who were still stuck on the interstate were taken to warming centers at about 6:30 p.m. Just after 10 p.m. Thursday night, ISP released a statement saying about 12 tow trucks were on the scene to assist with the clean-up that continued into the morning.
Peoria Heights business owner David Troesser was one of the drivers who drove into a ditch to avoid crashing.
“It was a whiteout. It was blizzard standards, so I didn’t really have too much time to make a decision,” Troesser said.
Troesser, who posted a series of videos from the incident to social media, said after getting out of his truck, one of his first goals was checking in on other drivers.
“To tell the people that were right above the ditch and drain area to be safe,” Troesser said.
Washington resident Tara Daringer also narrowly escaped crashing on I-39.
While the pile-up did force Daringer to stay in an El Paso hotel for a night, she said she’s thankful that no injuries were reported by police.
“Just to know that we were that close to something that big and then to know that we’re okay, I was just shaken up,” Daringer said.
However, an ISP squad car was hit during the chaos when a pickup truck was pushed into the rear of the vehicle.