Workers remove a semitrailer from the median of Interstate 57 in Effingham following a Thursday morning accident.

Area residents were greeted with a blanket of snow on the ground Thursday morning, as school children’s wish for a snow day came true.

Even though area students were thrilled with the snow, the winter precipitation and high winds made for treacherous roadways, contributing to one fatal accident and another serious accident on Interstate 70 Thursday morning. And it could get worse.

The area had a recorded snowfall of 2 inches Thursday morning and it continued to snow off and on throughout the day. The wind began to pick up Thursday afternoon and was expected to pick up more speed Thursday night, reaching about 20 miles per hour.

Although most highways were clear Thursday evening, high winds were expected to cause drifting in some areas that could surprise motorists with unexpected slick spots.

Most rural and city roads, however, remained snow covered Thursday evening and drifting was expected to make the rural roads even more hazardous.

Effingham city police, Effingham County sheriff’s deputies and Illinois State Police responded to a few accidents Thursday morning, including two serious accidents on southbound Interstate 57 near the 158 mile marker. One of the accidents was a fatal, and the first accident was believed to have caused the second. Interstate 70 between Effingham and Altamont was closed for a period of time Thursday morning as emergency personnel dealt with the accidents.

Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy, whose department responded to the scene does not know how long both lanes were closed, but said Illinois State Police were able to open one lane of traffic before both lanes were opened at about 11 a.m.

The first accident resulted in a fatality, along with several injuries and led to a second accident in which two people were injured.

According to Illinois State Police District 12, at 9:41 a.m. at milepost 158, Reginald Golden, 41, of Horn Lake, Miss., was northbound when he lost control of the vehicle he was driving on the snow-covered roadway, crossed the median, traveled onto the right southbound lane of the interstate and was struck broadside on the passenger side by a tractor-trailer driven by Jeffry Mankowski, 43, of Massillon, Ohio. Golden then slid down a steep embankment and the vehicle traveled approximately 100 feet before coming to a rest. Mankowski’s tractor-trailer came to a rest along the left shoulder partially in the median.

Golden Sr. was injured and taken to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, Effingham, and transferred to Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, where he was listed in critical condition Thursday night. A front-seat passenger in Golden’s vehicle, Tamiko L. Todd-Golden, 38, of Horn Lake, Miss., died from injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced dead on scene at 10:44 a.m. She was not wearing a seat belt. Passengers injured also from Horn Lake, Miss., were Reginald Golden Jr. 18, and William Mountain, 12. Both were taken to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and transferred to Carle Foundation Hospital, where they were listed in critical condition late Thursday. Also injured in the vehicle were Riya Golden, 5, and Regina Golden, 2. Both were taken to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital. Driver of the other vehicle, Mankowski, also was taken to St. Anthony’s. Their conditions are unknown because the hospital does not release patient information.

Reginald Golden Jr. was ejected from the vehicle as it traveled down the embankment. Tamiko L. Todd-Golden and William Mountain were extricated from the vehicle by the Effingham Fire Department.

Reginald Golden was ticketed for improper lane usage and failure to wear a seat belt.

Another accident occurred shortly after at 9:52 a.m. at milepost 158. According to ISP, Lisa Weishaar, 17, of Altamont lost control of the vehicle she was driving, veering into the median, crossed into the southbound lane and struck a semitrailer driven by Daniel Tirador, 26, of Victoria, Texas.

Weishaar and a passenger, Gabriella Weishaar, 3, were taken to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, Effingham. Their conditions are unknown because the hospital does not release patient information.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s department said although deputies responded to a couple of accidents Thursday, the weather did not create the flurry of accidents it sometimes can. Deputies remained prepared to respond Thursday night and Friday and were hopeful the expected high winds would not cause Thursday’s relative calm to be disrupted.

A spokesperson for the Effingham Police Department could not be reached Thursday.

Area schools were canceled Thursday and today.

The National Weather Service in Lincoln said Thursday evening a winter storm advisory was set to expire at 6 a.m. today. However, temperatures will be bitterly cold with a high today of about 18 and northwesterly winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour, causing the wind chill to dip below zero. The wind chill Thursday night ranged between -2 to -12 degrees.

There is a 50 percent chance of snow flurries throughout the day today, but according to the spokesman for the National Weather Service the flurries should not add to the existing accumulation.


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