Illinois State Trooper Calvin Dye Jr. said metro-east highways Friday night and Saturday morning were treacherous.
“Chaos is an understatement,” Dye said.
From 4 p.m. on Friday to 3 a.m. on Saturday, State Police in the region received 475 calls for service, with 298 of those being for crashes. About half of those were serious, Dye said.
There was one fatality reported, in Washington County. Robert C. Loouveau, 23 of Addieville, died in a crash on Illinois 153, about a mile south of Lively Grove, according to Coroner Mark Styninger.
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Loouveau was a passenger in a van driven by his mother, Becka Heitman, 45, of Addieville. Styninger said it appears she slid on the ice and crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Klif Kline, 60, of Coulterville.
Styninger said all occupants had to be extricated from their vehicles. Loouveau and Heitman suffered major injuries and were taken to hospitals.
Dye said there were traffic problems across the region. Trailers jack-knifed in the icy weather and drivers abandoned stuck vehicles on roadways, Dye said.
“One of our dispatchers had been working here for 32 years and she said she has never seen anything like this,” Dye said.
St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said his deputies filled out 15 crash reports and responded to about 150 cars in the ditch.
“Busy night,” Watson said.
Madison County Sheriff John Lakin said his department received 30 calls for traffic crashes, some involving multiple vehicles.
Police, firefighters and rescue crews were swamped in virtually every jurisdiction in the metro-east. There were stand-stills on interstates and highways. Some metro-east residents reported evening commutes that took more than two hours.
At one point, State Police asked that motorists just get off the roadways and not travel.
Roads had improved by 6 a.m. Saturday, but Dye encouraged drivers who don’t have to travel to stay home. Temperatures were expected to drop again on Saturday, with possibly more precipitation.
If drivers need to be out, Dye encouraged them to pack warm clothes, water and food and take extreme caution while driving.