Truck Accident in Illinois
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HENRY COUNTY, Illinois— Traffic is back to normal in the area of Interstate 74 and Route 81 between Andover and Lynn Center after a cattle truck overturned before dawn.
It tossed about 30 cattle onto the highway, causing two other accidents. Remarkably, nobody was seriously hurt.
Truck driver Russell Hobbs, 59, tells authorities he fell asleep at the wheel. The Indiana-based driver was treated for his injuries in Galesburg and was cited for two traffic violations.
First responders stepped into action shortly after the accident. Just before 6 Friday morning, a westbound cattle truck went off the road near Cambridge and flipped in the median.
"There were a lot of cattle on the interstate, mainly in the median at first," said Tom Burek, Illinois State Police. "What complicated it was the dark, and they were black. We had secondary crashes as a result of that."
Minor injuries were reported from the two car-versus-cattle crashes. Interstate 74 had to be shut down for a time to retrieve the cattle and recover the semi truck and trailer.
Since the accident happened before dawn, darkness hampered drivers and responders. But this unconventional round-up could have been much worse.
There were various traffic tie-ups in the vicinity on Friday morning. As first responders cleared the scene, the twisted truck became a painful reminder.
"When you're driving 65 mph down a road and all of a sudden you see a cow standing in front of you, it's worse than a deer," said Ron Goodwin, a first responder from Cambridge.
Investigators say that daylight made a big difference. The visibility helped them to clear debris, restore traffic and round up the loose cattle.
"If they would have gotten back into the corn fields, they wouldn't have been found until after all the corn was picked," Goodwin said.
As of Friday afternoon, investigators were urging drivers to use caution and be on the lookout for loose cattle, especially on I-74 between mileposts 20 and 26.
"It was just a big herding operation, if you will, to get these cattle east of here and into a truck," Burek said.
It was a strange round-up that wound up upside-down in Henry County.
The accident remains under investigation.