An area trucker is dead and a second was injured Monday in a four-semi-trailer crash on Interstate 80, east of Ridge Road, near Minooka.
William E. Henderson, 39, Bradley, was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:14 p.m. by Deputy Jennifer Elliott of the Grundy County Coroner’s office.
Manuel Proctor, 57 of Cedar Hills, Texas, driver of the fourth truck involved in the chain-reaction crash, took himself to a hospital, Sgt. Chris Paluch of District 5, Illinois State Police, Joliet, noted today. He did not know the nature of Proctor’s injuries. The other two drivers were not injured.
The rear-end collision occurred after Henderson – who was in the eastbound lanes with a trailer loaded with steel beams – came over a rise on I-80 and struck the rear of a semi-trailer truck carrying a full load of grain.
The force of the impact pushed the grain truck into the rear of a second grain truck, which then went into the rear of the first semi-trailer in line.
All three semi-trailers were stopped on the highway when Henderson’s truck slammed into the trailing grain truck.
“It appears the driver came over the top of I-80 and the traffic was stopped,” Paluch said. “He struck the one unit. I don’t know his speed. Even if he were doing the regular speed limit, it was still 55 miles an hour.”
The crash forced closure of the two eastbound lanes from 2:42 p.m. Monday, when the crash occurred, to 2:30 a.m. today.
The eastbound lanes were closed at Illinois 47 at Morris, with traffic diverted south to U.S. 6 or north to U.S. 52.
At mid-morning today, grain from the one truck was still being offloaded. The other fully loaded grain truck was offloaded earlier, Paluch said.
Grundy County coroner John Callahan said he had no idea why traffic was stopped on the interstate prior to the crash.
“At any rate, when (Henderson) came up over the overpass on I-80, the three semi-trailers were stopped and he failed to see them,” Callahan said. “He failed to see them and ran right into the back of the grain truck, which pushed that unit ahead in a chain-reaction type of thing.”
Paluch was on duty at the accident scene throughout the night.
“I’ve seen many wrecks before,” he said, “But usually a lot more people were injured.”
Callahan said the preliminary investigation indicates Henderson died of massive trauma.
He also commented on the length of time the eastbound lanes were closed.
“There was all the grain from the one semi-trailer truck to be picked up,” Callahan said. “There also was steel all over the road. You can’t pick that up with bare hands.”
State Police were assisted at the site of the crash by the Minooka Fire and Ambulance Service, and the Troy Emergency Management Service.
The investigation into the incident is continuing today. The autopsy was to take place today.