MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ill. – Earlier this month, a blinding dust storm led to a massive pile-up on Interstate 55 in south-central Illinois, which claimed the lives of seven people. On Thursday, the Illinois State Police released the name of the last unidentified victim.

According to investigators, wind gusts blew dirt from nearby farm fields across the roadway, causing the spring version of “white-out” conditions on the interstate on the morning of May 1. The crashes happened in both the northbound and southbound lanes around 10:55 a.m., between mile markers 72 and 78.

As a result, I-55 was shut down between Litchfield and Divernon, south of Springfield, Illinois. 

State police said 72 vehicles were involved in the crashes, and 37 were taken to area hospitals to be treated for a variety of injuries, ranging from minor to critical.

Four people from Illinois died in the pile-up, along with two from Missouri, and one person from Wisconsin.

The last person to be identified is Otto Medina-Salazar of Carthage, Missouri. He was 58.

The previously identified victims are:

  • Donna Bates, 71, of Crystal Lake, Illinois
  • Joseph Bates, 73, of Crystal Lake, Illinois
  • Shirley Harper, 88, of Franklin, Wisconsin
  • Earl LeGrand, 64, of Florissant, Missouri
  • Michael Zinchuk, 55, of Champaign, Illinois
  • Amy Zinchuk, 54, of Champaign, Illinois