A semi rollover at 4:46 a.m. on eastbound Interstate 80 just west of Utica snarled traffic during the Friday morning commute. Utica fire chief Ben Brown said the driver refused an ambulance transport from the scene.
The driver, Austin Castleberry, 55, of Chicago was charged with improper lane usage and an Hours of Service Violation for, state police said, driving in excess of eight hours without a 30-minute rest period.
As of 8 a.m., traffic was still backed up at the La Salle exit on eastbound Interstate 80. Traffic on U.S. 6 heading to the Route 178 stoplight at Utica also was slowed considerably.
Scholle’s Towing, Peru sent trucks and crew members to the scene and the road was reopening by about 9:30 a.m.
“It had a whole load of different kinds of breakfast products. They picked up the load in Nebraska; I’m not sure what manufacturer it was from,” said John Scholle, operator for Scholle’s Towing, Peru.
State police were investigating why the truck left the passing lane, went off the roadway, hit the emergency crossover pathway in the median and then crashed onto its side blocking both eastbound lanes.
“We got the truck out of the way to give more room for traffic,” Scholle said.
Still, the cleanup work blocked lanes for much of the morning.
When the trailer entered the median “the trailer rolled onto the cable barriers and ripped the open rear of the trailer. All the wheels were torn completely off,” Scholle said.
All of the cereal and breakfast products stayed in the trailer, and only a little bit of it, near the end of the trailer, got wet. The company was sending another truck to Scholle’s for the rest of the product, all of which was shrink-wrapped.
The towing crew used ratchet straps to hold together the torn-open part of the semitrailer. Two heavy-duty wreckers lifted the wrecked trailer onto a 53-foot-long flatbed trailer and the axles were lifted onto another flatbed.
Utica fire and ambulance, along with Illinois State Police District 17 and Illinois Department of Transportation responded to the call.