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1st snowfall of season leads to several fatal crashes

Terry Graham cleans off his car after first snow seasChicago. Friday December 9 2011. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Terry Graham cleans off his car after the first snow of the season in Chicago. Friday, December 9, 2011. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 9, 2011 10:03PM



Friday’s early morning snow, one of the latest first snowfalls of the season on record, led to dozens of spin-out crashes on area motorways and at least four fatalities, one in Chicago, two in Will County and one farther south.

Illinois Department of Transportation trucks spread salt on area expressways and tollways early Friday to help mitigate the wintry conditions, officials said. Authorities responded to dozens of spinouts and minor accidents across the Chicago area, including several vehicles that spun out or hit walls because of slick road conditions, an Illinois State Trooper said.

Those included at least three fatal accidents in Chicago metro area.

About 6 a.m. near the Cicero exit on inbound I-290, a pickup was parked on the side of the road and the driver was outside the vehicle when a box truck traveled onto the shoulder, striking the pickup and the driver, an Illinois State Police District Chicago trooper said.

The driver’s identity could not immediately be provided pending notification of family.

The trooper could not immediately say if slick road conditions were definitely a factor in the crash, but road conditions were slick.

In Will County. weather conditions are being blamed for two unrelated accidents on I-80 that claimed the lives of two motorists, both 29 years old.

At about 1:40 a.m., a 1999 Ford Explorer driven by 29-year-old Theresa Lang of Minooka was westbound on I-80, according to Joliet District Illinois State Police.

Lang lost control because of weather conditions and drove off the roadway into the right ditch, state police said. This caused the SUV to roll over and strike a tree where it came to rest. Lang, the only occupant of the Explorer, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Minutes later, a Chicago man was killed in another crash on I-80.

At about 1:48 a.m., a 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by 29-year-old Andres Pita-Jamon of Chicago was westbound on I-80 when he lost control because of weather conditions, state police said.

The Cavalier spun out into the path of a 2006 Kenworth semi truck driven by a 51-year-old Laporte, Ind., man. The semi struck the Cavalier, which was pushed into the right ditch near the westbound exit ramp to U.S. 30.

The New Lenox Fire Department responded and took Pita-Jamon to Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, where he was pronounced dead at 2:44 a.m., according to the Will County Coroner’s office

In both accidents, the driver was wearing a seatbelt and it was unknown if other factors played a role.

About 75 miles to the south in Iroquois County, state police said a 1997 GMC truck was westbound on U.S. 24 about 1:30 a.m. when it ran off the roadway near County Road 1890S and struck a sign. The truck rolled over near the entrance to the Iroquois Paving Corporation.

Dennis Eby, 44, of Crescent City, Ill., was ejected from the vehicle. He was taken to Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka, where he was pronounced dead.

In all, about a half inch of snow was recorded at O’Hare Airport, according to the National Weather Service. That means 2011 tied 1948 for having the fifth latest snowfall on record. Typically Chicago sees its first snow sometime near Nov. 21.



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