I-55 crash: 2 people from Crystal Lake, 2 from Champaign among 7 who died in downstate dust-storm pileups, police say

Two people from Crystal Lake and two from Champaign are among seven people fatally injured in a massive multi-vehicle crash amid a dust storm Monday on Interstate 55 south of Springfield, Illinois State Police said.

Police early Saturday said that the dead included Joseph Bates, 73, and Donna Bates, 71, of Crystal Lake; Michael Zinchuk, 55, and Amy Zinchuk, 54, of Champaign, and Earl LeGrand, 64, of Florissant, Missouri.

Authorities earlier identified 88-year-old Shirley Harper, of Franklin, Wis., as one of the dead.

State police are working with the Montgomery County coroner’s office to confirm the identification of the final remaining victim.

The crashes occurred about 10:55 a.m. on both northbound and southbound I-55 between near Farmersville, Illinois, in Montgomery County. State police said the crashes happened during a dust storm described as similar to “whiteout” conditions.

A total of 72 vehicles were known to be involved in the crashes and 37 people were transported to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical, state police said.