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Local

Fatality reported in crash that shut down westbound I-80

A motorist died at the scene of a late-morning crash Tuesday on Interstate 80 east of Utica.

Utica fire chief Ben Brown said the motorist, whose identity has not yet been disclosed, was reported unconscious but “deteriorated” while a LifeFlight helicopter was sent to the crash site, located 2 miles east of Route 178. Brown said extrication was not required.

The crash was described as a semi-vs.-sport utility vehicle reported at 11:26 a.m. on the westbound lanes. The crash brought westbound traffic to a stop, forcing first-responders and Illinois Department of Transportation workers to divert westbound traffic from Route 23 in Ottawa to Route 178 in Utica, where a heavy volume of trucks and passenger cars re-entered the freeway.

The La Salle County Coroner’s Office still was on scene at the crash site as of 1:40 p.m. State police were said to be handling the investigation and accident reconstruction.

La Salle firefighters assisted at the scene. Oglesby personnel manned the Utica station while Utica firefighters were on scene.

The crash capped an eventful morning for Utica firefighters, who earlier were dispatched to a truck fire at about 11 a.m. just east of Route 178. Brown said the wheels below a container had caught fire and that Utica personnel quickly moved to the SUV-versus-semi site after the tires were extinguished.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or TCollins@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.

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