Three people are in critical condition and 13 others are hospitalized after a six-vehicle chain-reaction crash Friday morning on the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee, officials said.
Of the 17 drivers and passengers, 16 were taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, said Gurnee Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Pellitteri.
"One of the cars had people trapped and they had to cut the roof off," Pellitteri said. "Five of them at the time of patient evaluation on scene were considered critical."
One of those in critical condition remained at Condell, officials said, while two were flown to Advocate Children's Hospital and Advocate Lutheran Hospital in Park Ridge. Two patients were listed in serious condition and 11 patients in good condition, Condell officials said.
District 15 state police said the crash at about 10:50 a.m. involved three sport-utility vehicles, a semitrailer truck and two passenger vehicles. The accident occurred in the northbound lanes a mile south of Grand Avenue. The two right lanes in that were closed as the accident was being investigated, creating significant traffic delays. All lanes were reopened about 2:10 p.m.
According to state police five vehicles were stopped in traffic in the far two right lanes. A Western Star semitrailer truck was unable to reduce speed enough to keep from striking the rear of a Jeep Cherokee and Honda Civic, causing a chain reaction.
About 20 minutes after the crash, Condell was notified of a mass casualty motor vehicle accident and told to expect 10 patients, including some in critical condition, according to Dr. Bruce Hyman, executive medical director.
Procedure in that instance involves a Code Triage, which puts everyone on alert and results in extra staff being deployed to the emergency room and a call to emergency room physicians and trauma surgeons, he said.
"We ended up getting 16 patients, partly because there were several families with multiple people injured, and they did not want to be separated," he said.
State police said it was unknown whether any of those involved were wearing seat belts.
Names but not addresses were released for the drivers but no information was released regarding the passengers. Further details, including whether any tickets were issued, were not available Friday evening.