Semi-Truck Crash Shuts Down Eastbound Borman Expressway
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UPDATED 06/20/12 11:38 a.m.
GARY, Ind. (CBS) — Some lanes were still closed as late as the midday hours, following an overnight crash that left a truck driver with life-threatening injuries, and shut down the eastbound Borman Expressway in Northwest Indiana.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, rash happened around 2:45 a.m. Wednesday on the eastbound Borman (I-80/94) shutting down the entire eastbound expressway at Burr Street.
It wasn’t until nearly 11:30 a.m. that all the lanes reopened.
While the roadway was shut down, drivers were left with few options. One driver walked several miles to get to work, while another parked his car and took a nap.
Indiana State Police say it all started when a suspected impaired driver almost hit two semis and finally slammed into a concrete barrier wall. An off-duty police officer happened to be behind the driver in an unmarked police car, and pulled over the impaired driver.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports
The curbed driver pulled over to the right shoulder on the eastbound Borman near Cline Avenue, while the officer stopped behind him. But the police car was partially in the right lane.
Shortly afterward, Michael O. Amede 53, of Country Club Hills almost hit the police car with his a 2003 Mack semi-garbage truck. He changed lanes into the right middle lane and was hit in the rear by another semi.
The 2005 Volvo semi pulling a box trailer full of empty flower racks, which was being driven by a 50-year-old Wisconsin man, was headed east in the middle right lane when it slammed into Amede’s garbage truck, state police said.
The Volvo semi hit the garbage truck at full highway speed.
The driver of the Volvo semi was pinned underneath for some time. It took several hours to extricate him, and he had to be taken by the University of Chicago Medicine helicopter to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
His injuries were life-threatening, state police said.
The garbage truck was headed from south suburban Riverdale to Monticello, Ind. Amede was not injured and did not lose any of his load, state police said.
For other drivers on the road, the situation was a nightmare.
“I walked seven miles – you know – I just got to my truck. Seven miles,” said truck driver Murad Akhmedov. “I tried to find a taxi, but nowhere a taxi here, you know.”
Akhmedov’s brother was supposed to drop him off at a truck stop in Indiana. They were coming from Chicago, but didn’t get anywhere because of the crash.
Akhmedov’s brother told him to get out.
It took Akhmedov “two hours, maybe more than that” to walk seven miles.
Louis Lopez got on the road minutes later. He was stuck in his car for more than three hours.
“I fell asleep. I shut the car off; it was a standstill traffic,” he said.
Lopez had to bend the rules of the road to get off the expressway.
“I hit reverse on the shoulder and got off at Cline Avenue,” he said.
The westbound lanes were open for most of the morning commute, but gawkers slowed traffic down to a crawl.
We found Susan Fox at a gas station, en route from Chicago to Michigan. She said she’d much rather wait at the service station to save gas.
“It’s just crawling, crawling. It’s terrible,” she said.
Another commuter, Barbara, said the heat made it all even more frustrating.
“Especially when it’s hot, because the truck can overheat,” she said.
The suspected impaired driver, Ronald E. Blankenship III, 21, of Gary, was arrested and taken to Lake County Jail for driving while intoxicated.
All eastbound lanes on the Borman were closed until about 7:15 a.m., when the inner shoulder and left lane reopened, state police said. All lanes had reopened by 11:30 a.m.
CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports the highway was backed up all the way to the Illinois-Indiana state line as late as 6:30 a.m.