EFFINGHAM — One driver was airlifted while another was transported to the hospital by ambulance following a collision on Interstate 57/70 in Effingham Monday afternoon, according to Illinois State Police.
Authorities said Larry D. Daniel, 63, of Chicago was southbound on I-57 near mile marker 158 at 3:01 p.m. in a 1993 Chevrolet Blazer, pulling a homemade trailer, when he lost a portion of a towed load of metal.
A 2012 Dodge Avenger driven by Davetta C. Wozniak, 20, of Effingham was struck by the metal that caused other vehicles to brake and make evasive maneuvers to avoid the debris.
Randy S. Banovz, 56, of McLeansboro, driving a 2014 Freightliner truck-tractor semitrailer, and another driver, John Masih, 42, of Brampton, Ontario, who was driving a 2019 Freightliner truck-tractor semitrailer, braked to avoid a collision. Francisco J. Luevanos III, 31, of Champaign, who was driving a 2016 GMC U-Haul van pulling a trailer with a Jeep Compass on it, rear ended Masih, who in turn collided with Banovz, authorities said.
Authorities said the Jeep Compass being towed by Luevanos contained three unlawfully transported passengers. Effingham Assistant Fire Chief Matt Kulesza said upon his arrival on the scene, he discovered Luevanos was trapped behind the steering wheel. Firefighters began extrication immediately while a squad and Chief Bob Tutko secured both center lanes of the roadway for protection of emergency personnel on scene.
Banovz and Luevanos' passengers Esmeralda I. Luevanos, 30, a 10-year-old male, 2-year-old female and 3-month-old male, all of Champaign, were transported to HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries, and Francisco Luevanos was airlifted to St. John's Hospital for treatment.
Authorities said Interstates 57 and 70 were closed for more than an hour as the Effingham Fire Department and Abbott Ambulance, along with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Transportation, assisted the injured and arranged for the removal of wrecked vehicles and debris. Heartland Towing was also on scene.
Kulesza said IDOT provided arrow boards to reroute traffic utilizing the inside shoulder and used sand for leaking fluids from the involved vehicles; the Effingham Fire Department also brought in arrow boards to help redirect traffic.
Kulesza said during this incident, U.S. Highway 40 and Fayette Avenue were congested. At times, Interstate 57/70 was backed up for five miles.
Daniel was charged with improperly secured load/spilling a load, and Luevanos was charged with having passengers in a towed vehicle.