Lake Shore Drive A Disaster; Drivers Stuck For Hours

em>Updated 2/2/11 8:00 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Lake Shore Drive was a disaster area overnight, as motorists found themselves stranded for up to 12 hours and ended up in the hospital.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, many motorists were just trying to get home, but the blizzard made that impossible.


Initially, Lake Shore Drive was moving smoothly as the evening rush began, but conditions began to deteriorate following several accidents. There were three accidents between 7:15 and 7:45 p.m., one of them involving a CTA bus. Shortly afterward, there were two more accidents just south of North Avenue.

The accidents caused cars and buses to back up, and as the snow piled up, vehicles became immobilized and off-ramps became impassable. Lake Shore Drive was closed at 7:58 p.m., and fire and police personnel worked to move as many cars as possible off the highway and remove people who could not get out on their own.

Newsradio 780 was flooded with calls from stranded motorists who said they had been stuck on Lake Shore Drive for over seven hours and saw people abandoning their cars.

Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports Sue Baker left her Hyde Park office around 5 p.m. and nearly seven hours later, she remained in the same spot, “We haven’t moved. It’s kinda scary. There are snow drifts on our cars now.”

Mayor’s chief of staff Raymond Orozco said first responders tried to get to stranded motorists as quickly as possible, but winds of 60 to 70 mph and snow falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour made that extremely difficult.

The city shut down Lake Shore Drive, for the first time since the Blizzard of 1999.

Before the city shut down the Drive, traffic had been crawling; it took upwards of an hour to travel only a mile. Many cars were without a full tank of gas, and ended up running out.

Evanston attorney Craig Roeder says he got on Lake Shore Drive at 6 p.m. and headed north. He says he crept and crawled until just south of Fullerton Parkway, when traffic ground to a halt around 9:30 pm.

And there he sat, in whiteout conditions for six hours, until 3:20 a.m. when WBBM Newsradio 780’s David Roe was interviewing him on the phone.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s David Roe reports

“There are some emergency people now coming with flashlights between the cars,” Roeder said. “What we had been hearing is that they were taking people out into fire trucks because the buses couldn’t get through, so it looks like this could be our rescue here.”

Jim Glonke was stranded near North Avenue for 11 hours. He told CBS 2 he left his office in Chinatown in the late afternoon Tuesday, and it was backed up. He arrived at North Avenue around 7 p.m., and traffic stopped completely for an hour or two. Glonke was told a jackknifed bus was to blame.

Many cars ran out of gas, and were abandoned, as Glonke sat and exchanged text messages with his girlfriend, sister and mother.

“The next thing you know, it’s 4:15 in the morning, and I was one of the last cars to come off who actually had a few fumes left in his tank to get to the gas station,” Glonke said.

Another driver remained stranded on Lake Shore Drive at 5 a.m., and said he had been all but abandoned.

“We’re at North Avenue right now. It’s a standstill. They told us about an hour and a half ago that we’d be off the exit. There’s a car that ran out of gas, and that was about 1 o’clock and we’ve been sitting here ever since,” he said. “Nobody’s come by. Nobody’s told us anything.”

A CTA bus driver told CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole he had been stranded on Lake Shore Drive since 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. That was at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday.

The city ended up being sharply criticized for its response to the emergency on the Drive. On the one hand, they wanted to get people off the roadway, but on the other hand, they wanted them to remain in their cars so plows could attack the snow buildup.

The Fire Department set up a mobile command center along North Lake Shore Drive, and came to each vehicle to check on people with water and granola bars. Windshield wipers were left up for cars that were empty.

As for those who were rescued, many were taken to St. Joseph Hospital for cold exposure. Others were taken to warming centers or placed on warming buses.

St. Joseph Hospital reported that 185 people had been brought in from Lake Shore Drive. Most were cold, and merely needed dry socks, blankets, slippers and towels.

About 137 hospital employees are lodging at the medical facility.

Orozco said all the people who wanted to leave their cars were off the Drive by around 7 a.m. The plan is to reopen Lake Shore Drive when they believe it’s safe to do so, but it’s not known when that will be.

“We know that hundreds do people were very inconvenienced, and we’re sorry about that,” Orozco said.

Orozco emphasized that the city was monitoring Lake Shore Drive from the beginning and responded as swiftly as possible.

“In 31 years with the city, I haven’t experienced anything like we did last night with Lake Shore Drive,” Orozco said.

  • peter

    Chicago is a disgrace, my elderly father is stuck and he needs dialysis…he is right before north ave, this is a disgrace, he has been there since 6pm

    • peter

      you are a tool, they should let the ones that are trapped in there get off instead of locking them in there

    • Dan

      Squirrel AIDS!

    • tim

      i hope you used protection, you can get things from cats…

    • matt

      peter, i usually take lsd home. i had enough logic to check local traffic cameras. i saw michigan ave was wide open, hence, i took it. i stayed on local streets and got home to edgewater rather quickly.

    • Upset Chicagoan

      I am born and raised here. Lake Shore Drive should not have been open. And once there was a crisis, it should not take 5-6 hours to come up with a rescue operation. Shame on the city.

    • joe

      shame on the city because people did not listen to the weather reports for THREE DAYS??? all i know is this. the people who prepared ahead of time are not the ones crying about how bad the city is. for the people who “had” to stay at work because they were told they could not leave, shame on them. my employer is not going to play chance with my life. i understand some people had no choice. doctors,teachers etc,,but this is Chicago. it is the old game of people not listening and then blaming the city for it.

    • greg

      what is your elderly father doing out in a Blizzard at 6pm? Don’t you own a TV or radio?

      • joe

        and i am the tool because i took care of my mon and Peter wants to blame othere because he did not do the same? i will take being a tool who took care of my mom, who took the rest of the work week off( i actually shut the office down, paid my 11 employees for the rest of the week paid leave, just to make sure every one was safe and home with their loved ones) then being a tool who is crying about how it is the city’s fault that my dad is stuck!!! MORON! people should not make uneducated comments!

      • joe

        sorry for the typo’s. i am typing in the dark. now i wish i paid the extra 175 for the back lit keyboard on this new laptop! :)

    • krounded

      “( i actually shut the office down, paid my 11 employees for the rest of the week paid leave”

      Can I come work for you? I hate my current job. I’m a great data analyst.

    • joe

      KROUNDED- LOL. you do NOT want to work for me!! my own niece turned down a summer job making cold calls and some data entry! she decided to work at Noodles instead!

    • Calvin

      He is just another dopey homegrown chicago guy! Let’s face it the locals arent too smart.

    • John

      You’re a disgrace. You should have been taking care of him. It was known to stay off the roads. You should be taking care of your elderly father.

    • rlvisor

      It’s idiotic to blame a snowstorm on the city. People have had 7 days notice that this was coming..went home early, filled tank with gas, made arrangements for family in need. Peter..look in mirror and you will quickly find who really is to blame.

    • tamara

      It’s not “Chicago”s problem. Bad things can happen even when everyone does what they’re supposed to do.

      I think we’ve all learned a lesson from this: do not drive on Lake Shore Drive when a major snowstorm is in effect or even on its way.

    • Joe

      You’re a fool to let your elderly father out of the house when everyone knew this was coming. Shame on you!

    • JIM


    • Jimmy

      All the fools out there got what they deserved. They have been forecasting this for days. Down to the hour!

      They need to charge everyone that will be towed

      Better yet get bulldozers and push em all in the lake

  • kim fowler

    I got off the drive at 39th south around 7pm and barely made it off. There are snow drifts that you cannot see. I got stuck and so did the car in front of me. I rocked myself out. The street lights are out in the area also.

  • magnum

    That’s how all those cars got stuck during the Blizzard of 67 on lsd. Now Snowing 3 inches per hour.

  • jmoney

    Yeah, people are just sitting there in their cars not knowing whats going on. Why don’t they make announcements so these people know what the hell is going on…not cool.

    • StupidPeopleFTW

      If only they woulda told us there was a blizzard coming…

  • Dan

    I’m sitting in my nice warm house, kids are playing away, left work early like 1/2 the people arounf town did, got plenty of food (and beer) generator in garage in case power goes out, duraflame logs for the fireplace for back up heat, could care less about shoveling and salt….

    It’s all about planning ahead my friends. Oh by the way, I’ll let my neighbors tap in to the power too, it’s all about looking out for your friends as well!

    • Jake

      You sound incredibly selfish!! Some things were unavoidable. I’m wondering how many REAL friends you have with that attitude. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been home for hours,food, warmth, safety,but my heart goes out for those less fortunate! The hands on the clock don’t hit every number at once, so you have your time of need coming. Better to sympathetize than lift you nose!!!

      • tamara

        Jake, love your response to Dan. Obviously Dan is too perfect for the rest of us, I’m surprised he even brings himself down to our level to speak to us. (snicker)

    • tamara

      Dan, you probably don’t do anything important, that’s why you can sit around your house when other people are still working.

  • EC

    When you leave work from the suburbs at 2pm and you are still stuck on LSD, that is not being “prepared.”

  • jmoney

    Prepare? Yeah bc this economy would actually let people take off work? Your oblivious.

    • Tre

      Who said take off work. I’ve been hearing for 24 hrs that LSD is going to be a mess. Take a different route.

    • John Crowley

      I am sorry, but my life or your life is not worth the risk. I work for the DOT, and I have seen how tragic these storms can be. I am not oblivious, just responsible. I say this because, when you go driving in weather like this, your not only risking your life, you are risking all those people around you not to mention emergency responders and the people trying to get a handle on the situation to clean up the mess. The more people on the roads and stranded vehicles, the longer it will take the city to get everything back to normal. You can’t always just think about yourself. No city could cope with snow coming down at 3 to 4 inches an hour and blizzard conditions. For the city of Chicago, this is a once in a lifetime event, and you could have prepare for this by not being on the roads in the afternoon. City and state officials have been begging you all for days to stay off the road, so now when you get stuck, you have no one else to blame but yourself! Period.

      • joe


      • mar

        If I don’t go to work tomorrow I will be fired. Are you going to support my kids? You have a cushy government job so you don’t understand what we go through in the corp world

      • Julie

        I thought it was weird when I was driving through Kansas and they had road blocks at every on-ramp. I later found out that it was because they didn’t want people getting on the road during blizzard conditions, because it takes the plows twice as long to clear the roads where there are stranded cars.

        Unfortunately, everything thinks they can “make it” and they take risks. The city should have put up physical barriers on LSD at 2 PM. It sucks that it takes that much for people to actually do what they are told, but that’s how humans work.

        I just saw a Taurus trying to drive down my block in what had to have been 14 inches of unplowed, drifted snow. It’s 2 AM. WHY. ARE. YOU. DRIVING?

    • John Crowley

      This is in reply to Mar. You have no clue. Your the one that is oblivious. If you read what I wrote, I work for the D.O.T. If I don’t get to work, your roads won’t be plowed, hello!!!! The D.O.T are the people who plow the roads, and I am required to risk my life to ensure that the roads are cleared and when things get as bad as they have in the last 24 hours, some times you have to make a choice whether the job is more important than your life. I have no wife and kids, so if I die, there is no great loss, but since you have a family to support, your family has everything to loose. You can always find another job, you can’t get another life. Furthermore, when states of emergencies are issued, and local government is begging you to stay off the road and mass transit is unavailable, it is illegal for an employer to fire you over such a thing. If it happens, file a lawsuit.

  • Trapped teacher

    Some of us sitting on lakeshore are teachers that were required to be at school today. When Daley doesn’t close schools early we can’t leave early. Please refrain from making comments that aren’t constructive

    • Martha

      I agree, I left school at 3pm and didn’t get home til 8pm using lakeshore drive. Thank goodness CPS is closed for tomorrow.

    • Stupid People FTW

      Yeah, it’s all someone else’s fault, because they kept you at school. We all know that the only way to get home in one of the largest cities in the US is driving in the middle of a blizzard. No buses, no trains. You HAAAAD to drive. Sure, moron.

  • Martha

    Lakeshore drive is horrible. I got stuck about 4 times and was scary as visiblility and huge drifts..took my 5 hours to drive to rogers park from midway airport.!

    • Stupid People FTW

      That’s terrible. Maybe you shouldn’t drive in the middle of a blizzard, moron. Ever heard of the CTA?

      • DB

        The CTA buses were jackknifed on Lake Shore. You my friend are ignorant.

  • David


  • Monster Blizzard Blasts Into Chicago Area « CBS Chicago

    […] Lake Shore Drive has been closed in both directions Tuesday night due to severe blowing and drifting… […]

  • Sheesh and Ugh

    My gf is stuck on LSD. She did plan ahead but her boss did not let her out early. Glad you’re safe and sound John C. Good for you!

    • John Crowley

      Hello, I work for the D.O.T!!!. I am the one that plows your roads, and when your on the roads like tonight, you make my job a hell of a lot harder not to mention it takes, in the case of tonight, 4 times longer to clear the mess. You have absolutely know clue.

      • Nick G

        SpellingIsHawrd, you didn’t spell “your” correctly in your post. Stop casting stones brother. Also, plowing snow can be loads of fun.

      • SpellingIzHawrd

        With that spelling, it’s not hard to believe that you’re job is to push snow around in a truck…

  • Dr.

    The reason people are trapped is because of a bus accident that they still have not cleared. Sorry, nobody should be blaming themselves if they did what they had to do today and ended up in a situation out of their control.

    John C.-If your safe at home, good for you. Get a life.

    • John Crowley

      Hello, I work for the D.O.T!!!. I am the one that plows your roads, and when your on the roads like tonight, you make my job a hell of a lot harder not to mention it takes, in the case of tonight, 4 times longer to clear the mess. Everyone was warned to stay away from LSD. People could have chosen a different route. LSD is absolutely one of the worst road when you have heave snow and strong NE winds off the lake. You have absolutely know clue, and I am glad you are not my DR. Not all government jobs are cushy, some are down right dangerous!

      • Not Happy

        Why was the city bus on Lake Shore Drive if the city felt it was unsafe for travel?

  • Dean Richards

    Hey, don’t you cbs bloggers listen to skilling? Winds from The EAST! lake shore drive is the last place you want to be! Plan ahead for crying out loud.

    • Nichols

      Wise comments. With gale force winds, you know that the waves will be huge and threaten Lake Shore Drive just like the snow drifts. Surprised why anyone would take Lake Shore Drive under these conditions.

      • DB

        They took it hours ago. They’re trapped because of the city’s poor response to a bus accident.

      • Mic Sat

        Took so long because people were still getting on the bus 4 hours after the accident, on their attorneys advise, It’s the Chicago way

        Really for two days they have been warning LSD would be a mess. Duh!

  • jason s

    i’ve been sitting here for 3 hours stuck like everyone else, people look piissed. I just ran out of chips so now i’m board, there is many streets they could let us excape from but here we sit, perfict

  • Rebecca

    Any update on this? Does anybody know if they’ve been able to clear at all? My friend is stuck just north of fullerton, he meant to get off, but visibility was so bad that he and the other cars crawled past it

    • sarah

      No, it’s 10:09 pm and our friends are being stuck at Fullerton, nothing happens. everybody’s stuck there.

      • Jiayin Rachel

        If they’re willing to abandon their car, there’s hotels within 30 mins walkng distance.

    • Upset mother

      Does anyone have an update on LSD. My son is still stuck there. Running out of gas. Cell phone is just about dead. He is between North Avenue and Fullerton…just heard on the radio that the cars are not getting out tonight. Is there a way to rescue people?

      • Oops!!

        Tell your son stay away from LSD the next time there is a once-in-a-lifetime blizzard. The city said that LSD was going to be a disaster, but people gambled and lost.

      • DB

        Did the CTA bus driver gamble and lose? I guess the bus driver didn’t listen to the city either. The city dropped the ball. Awful response.

  • mohd

    hi my friend is struck at LSD he is there from 3.45 PM i was talking to him over the phone he was telling the situation is really worst, he has to pee and he does not what to do. he is struck really bad. could you tell me when the LSD will be cleared.

    • jolly

      hello! my friend is struck at lake shore drive shez pregnant n she really needs to pee n shez juz trying to control it since 6 pm. i wanna knw when the traffic wil b cleared.

  • Ariel

    When I got on lake shore drive 7 hours ago things weren’t bad, but thanks to a bus accident at Belmont I am now stranded in the blizzard. I called 311 and they said they still have to clean up the accident, and then they will have police cars and tow trucks to help us out. No word on how ling it will take, though.

  • Southern Man

    Greed is what has you out here in this mess,wether it be you or the company you work for. If it is you then you got what.s comming, if it’s the company your working for,shame on them ! You can bet the Real large companies big wigs never came in to work or don’t even live in the area . If you would have shut down today and maybe some or all of tomrorrow would your company have gone under being closed two days ? Look at it this way, two days down would have givin your good workers a safe place to be so they could resume work when it is safe to do so. This will now set your work back more days,as people will now need more time to recover. The Karma of Greed.

  • Bill

    i left for san juan. i love the snow but it does not sound like too much fun.

  • Deborah

    I am praying for you all and hope you make it home safely. I CANNOT believe there are people still stuck out there. Where are the police? Where are emergency crews? This is totally crazy!

  • Laura

    I live right at Lake Shore and Division and I can help. Please reply if you know anyone who needs help and is nearby.

    • jannell

      Laura, yes my son is out there think he’s maybe a little north of there in a burgundy red 2009 Honda……..he’s only 3 miles from his apartment but stranded

  • katie

    If you know anyone stuck on the road, please tell them NOT to leave their car running the entire time due to the slight possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. I’m from the Lake Tahoe area in California and three women lost their lives when the exhaust pipe of their car froze. The possibility is very slight, but it’s not impossible and it’s something people don’t consider if they are stuck in the car and it’s cold. See the story at the link below.

  • Erica

    My mom’s a cancer Doctor and is stuck on the drive because she couldn’t turn away her patients. She’s been stuck since 5pm. She left the hospital as soon as she could after seeing her last patient. I’m very worried about her and don’t know when she’ll make it home tonight. :'(

  • DB

    Why did the city close the drive without a plan to get motorists off the road? They’re just letting them sit there with no regard for their safety. What country is this? Shame on you Chicago! You let this people down.

    • krounded

      If you tune into a scanner site, you’ll see that they are still working to get help to people. No one closed the road and are ignoring the problem.

    • KR

      They closed the drive south bound because it’s not safe… LSD north bound has been blocked by a CTA bus for numerous hours… read the reports before you make your “Shame on you” comments…

      • DB

        I read the reports. Why does it take hours to respond to a bus accident? The storm wasn’t as deadly at 5pm. No excuse. Poor response from the city.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live