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Good Samaritans save lives in I-24 crash

  • This aerial photo shows the aftermath of an eight-vehicle accident on Interstate 24 near the I-57 split in Johnson County. Three of the vehicles caught fire, with flames spreading to a nearby treeline before being extinguished by the Lake of Egypt Fire Department.

    This aerial photo shows the aftermath of an eight-vehicle accident on Interstate 24 near the I-57 split in Johnson County. Three of the vehicles caught fire, with flames spreading to a nearby treeline before being extinguished by the Lake of Egypt Fire Department.
    Courtesy WSIL TV3

 
By Staff Report
updated: 8/5/2017 12:38 AM

A team of unnamed good Samaritans are being credited as heroes by the Illinois State Police after an eight-vehicle accident Friday afternoon on Interstate 24 near the I-57 split in Johnson County.

According to a news release from the ISP, the accident involved seven passenger cars and a 2016 Peterbilt tractor-trailer, all traveling westbound on I-24 around noon.

The passenger cars were either stopped or traveling very slowly due to a construction-related traffic buildup. The driver of the Peterbilt, 37-year-old Nathan A. Fast of Byron, Minn., reportedly told police he thought he had fallen asleep, causing the tractor-trailer to strike the rear of a 2006 Toyota Corolla without slowing.

A chain-reaction crash followed, in which the Peterbilt, a GMC 3500 pulling a trailer and a 2016 Toyota 4Runner all caught fire and were declared a total loss. Dramatic video of the scene posted to Facebook showed the vehicles sandwiched together with clouds of heavy black smoke billowing into the sky.

A passenger in the Corolla, 52-year-old Barbara J. Francis of Paris, Mo., was extricated from the wreckage after a team of good Samaritans pushed the Corolla away from the burning vehicles.

She was airlifted from the scene with major, but non-life threatening injuries.

The good Samaritans also pulled all seven occupants of the burning cars out of the wreckage, saving their lives. In total, 19 people - none from Illinois - from six states were involved in the accident that closed the westbound lanes of I-24 for five hours for crash investigation and cleanup.

The eastbound lanes were also closed for an hour to land the medical helicopter.

Of the 14 reported injuries, only a passenger in the GMC, 57-year-old Peter D. Karmar of Sweetwater, Tenn., was majorly hurt other than Francis.

Fast was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash and driving while fatigued. He and an 11-year-old juvenile passenger were uninjured.

Four other juveniles involved in the accident suffered minor injuries.