I was looking out the window watching the sleet and freezing drizzle the evening of February 10th, watching icycles forming on the branches and elevated surfaces above my yard, wondering how slick the roads were. I received my answer soon enough, the tones dropping for a serious MVA… motor vehicle accident…at the 224.8 mile marker of eastbound I-44. I grabbed my camera and flash, secured Onyx in the truck and creeped down Elmont Road and over the James K. Schatz Bridge…no one was behind me, so I stopped on top of the bridge and looked west…for as far as I could see to the west, there were tractor trailers sitting sideways across both east and westbound lanes of I-44, one was in the westbound driving lane facing east, one sitting next to it facing westbound, beyond those two trucks were even more that were completely crossways and blocking both lanes on both sides of the median…I didn`t think I had enough light to shoot photos from there, or I would have done so. I drove on over to the Alice Street Cutoff going west and attempted to park on the driveway entrance to nowhere on the right before the stop sign at the North Service Road…I sat there a minute and then my truck started sliding sideways back down into Alice Street so I drove on over to Franklin Street and circled back to Hwy 185 and back to the bridge, then turned left on Alice Street and drove over to the North Service Road and then up to Mobil, parking by the car wash, next to several spectators. I locked Onyx inside, with the heater on low and made my way toward the bridge, observing Sullivan Firefighters trying to rescue the driver of a semi that was wrapped around one of the bottom concrete columns of the bridge, the semi on its side and the trailer extending back thru the median and into eastbound lanes…..
…the freezing drizzle was coming down a lot heavier than it first appeared, the flash illuminating it quite well, so I moved under the bridge soon after shooting that one and then just had to clean the lens off to continue shooting. Dave Konys climbed up on the cab to help supervise the extrication of the driver, and she was removed within about twenty minutes and transported to MoBap Sullivan by medics. Once she was removed, I backed up to shoot some scene photos of it….
During the investigation of the multiple vehicle accident, it was determined that she was eastbound on I-44 when another semi crossed over the median and she swerved to miss it, having only a split second to decide due to the weather, and her semi rolled to its side and struck the column of the bridge, trapping her inside the cab. Modot was on scene during the rescue and in touch with bridge inspectors soon after. As I was leaving the scene, I saw three very large semi wreckers approaching the scene from the West Overpass…while it would have been interesting to see how they removed it from the bridge, it was cold out and it was def going to take them some time to do so, plus there were many other semi`s blocking both lanes of I-44…and it was obviously going to take law enforcement awhile to re-open both lanes of I-44. I overheard radio traffic while there, Bourbon FD was assisting law enforcement at the Bourbon Overpass, re-routing eastbound traffic to the South Service Road. It would be a long night for all first responders and support staff on scene. Good job by all involved !!