PONTIAC, Ill. — A bystander assisted Illinois State Police in pulling a woman from the wreckage of a Jeep sports utility vehicle that went off of Interstate 55 and into the Vermilion River. Callers to emergency lines reported the incident in the early afternoon according to NBC Chicago. A child suffered critical injuries in the event. Illinois State Police investigators are still trying to determine why the Jeep SUV went off of the highway and into the river. The crash forced the police to close all of the Interstate’s southbound lanes near mile marker 198 for several hours as crews pulled the smashed SUV up from the river below. State Police officers tried to determine why the car flew off of the road and into the Vermilion River.*
NBC Chicago reported that a good Samaritan jumped into the chilly waters to help save a mother and child who became trapped in the wreckage 10 to 15 feet below the bridge spanning the river. The good Samaritan reportedly pulled the mother to safety, and first responders removed the child from the partially submerged white Jeep SUV. Both the mother and child went to the hospital for treatment. OSF Saint Francis Medical Center listed the child as being in critical condition. The hospital did not disclose the nature of the child’s injuries nor the child’s prognosis to the media.
Illinois State Police investigators are struggling to figure out how or why this accident happened. Investigators did not discuss any further information about the status of their investigation. News crews did report that a heavy-duty tow truck secured the Jeep and hoisted it back onto the road surface of I-55. The white colored Jeep appeared to be heavily damaged.
Authorities allow the traffic on I-55 northbound to continue flowing. Officials closed the southbound traffic for several hours. Police redirected southbound traffic off of I-55 and around the accident scene.
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