This season's first snowfall — a rainy, snowy mix — quickly turned to ice Monday evening creating chaos on area roadways and led to one fatal traffic accident overnight.
Dhirajlal Tejala Ratanpara, 57, of the 1400 block of Sutter Drive in Hanover Park, was pronounced dead at Alexian Brothers Medical Center at 1:37 a.m. following a crash on the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Authorities said Ratanpara was hit by a vehicle after he exited his car on the expressway. He left his vehicle, authorities said, after he was involved in a crash on the slick roadway.
Dozens of spinouts and accidents led to road closures throughout the area, with the worst in the O'Hare area, said District 15 State Police Master Sgt. Nick Hasan.
“We had a little bit of precipitation and it just iced up. It all happened quite suddenly,” Hasan said. “We had a spur of some ice on our roadway. By the time we were able to respond to it, we already had crash upon crash.”
Seventeen crashes took place along I-294 between 9:45 and 10:45 p.m. between Balmoral Avenue and Lake-Cook Road.
Two state police squad cars were also struck by out-of-control cars.
“People just weren't slowing down. While officers were out there dealing with accidents, people were steadily crashing around them,” Hasan said.
By 11 p.m., multiple accidents shut down all lanes of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway between Gary Avenue and Roselle Road. Numerous accidents were reported along Route 59, and all lanes of Route 53 were closed between Euclid and Higgins roads.
By 1 a.m., everything started to settle down, Hasan said.
State police want to remind drivers to slow down, especially for emergency vehicles assisting others.
“You see police lights and sirens or tow trucks and maintenance vehicles — slow down,” Hasan said. “Yes, it's the first real incident of the weather season, but they just need to slow down.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.