Fatal accident occurs on I-255 despite highway safety campaign

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CASEYVILLE, IL (KPLR) - The holiday weekend got off to a relatively safe start on St. Louis area highways.

It came to a deadly end just as police wrapped up their massive effort to keep highways safe.

A head-on, cross-over crash on Interstate 255 near Caseyville, Illinois, left a Missouri woman dead and her husband near death, around 4 o’clock Monday afternoon.

Illinois State Police gave this account:

A driver was getting onto Northbound 255 from Westbound 64 when she sideswiped a pickup truck.  The pickup crossed the median and hit a Southbound car head on.  The female passenger died.  Her husband was driving.  He was trapped.  Firefighters worked to cut him from the wreckage.  His wife had already passed away in the seat next to him.

He was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital.  His condition was grave.

“It’s a sad thing to have happen to anybody.  What are you going to say,” said Caseyville Fire Chief, G.W. Scott.  “It was a challenge to get the one that was alive out.  We just extricated.  Once the coroner got here then we took the other one out…surprisingly, that pickup truck, that lady walked out of that thing.  We got on the scene she was already gone.”

The accident came with officers out in huge numbers in Missouri and Illinois this weekend.

Illinois State Police targeted what they called the “Fatal 4”:  the top 4 contributors to fatal accidents--speeding, drunk driving, no seat belts, and distracted driving.

Most often distracted driving involves drivers using cell phones behind the wheel.

There were drivers doing just that as they passed the deadly crash scene on I-255.

“There’s actually been studies done in other states, studies of texting and driving.  Their studies revealed an adult 21 years of age, if they’re texting and driving, that’s actually equivalent to have over two times the legal limit of alcohol in your system,” said Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr., of the Illinois State Police.  “The law states you have to be hands-free.  So your hand cannot even be touching the phone while you’re driving.”

That’s the law in Illinois, not Missouri.

Investigators aren’t sure what caused that first driver to side-swipe the truck and start the tragic chain of events.  They say the driver was not impaired.  She’s only been cited for improper lane usage, so far.

No one in her vehicle was hurt; no word on any citations.

Investigators did release the names of those involved, Monday.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol also reported a deadly one car crash in Arnold, Sunday.  Kirk Lochirco, 23, of Arnold, died when he lost control of his vehicle on Interstate 55, hit a cable barrier, the MSHP reported.  His vehicle overturned.  Lochirco was partially ejected, according to the crash report.

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