Illinois State Police troopers, Palatine police, and firefighters and paramedics from Palatine and Arlington Heights responded about 11:10 a.m. Thursday, May 12, 2022 to a report of a rollover dump truck on northbound Route 53 south of Rand Road near Arlington Heights.
Minutes later rescuers received a report of a damaged truck in the southbound lanes of Route 53 also. ComEd workers were nearby and saw the chaotic aftermath. They arrived immediately after the crash occurred.
Initial investigation indicates a dump truck was being driven northbound on Route 53 with the dump bed extended up in the air. The top of the extended dump bed hit a 1200 kV power line, and the tension of the power line caused the dump truck to flip and skid on its side several hundred feed in the northbound lanes of Route 53. A second power line came down and crashed through the windshield of a white semi-trailer truck that was being driven southbound on Route 53. The power line also wrapped around the cab of the white semi-trailer truck. When the power lines fell, the arcing lines caused brush fires on both sides of Route 53.
A witness said there was an orange ball of fire on the east side of Route 53, where there is a right of way for 300-plus kV Transmission towers and transmission lines. The transmission lines, which also cross Route 53, weren’t affected; but lower power lines below the transmission lines were damaged and arcing on both sides of Route 53. The location of the orange ball of fire under the transmission lines was south of The Pointe Apartments.
The arcing lines on the west side of Route 53 — and west of the Wilke Road frontage road — were so hot, they caused a fire in a wet marsh located just west of the Wilke Road west frontage road.
When firefighters arrived, smoke was crossing Route 53, blocking visibility. Initially firefighters didn’t know there was a rolled over dump truck north of the smoke crossing the expressway. Palatine police closed the North Wilke Road frontage road between Rand Road and Victoria Drive on the west side of Route 53. The rolled over dump truck came to rest on Route 53 near the point were the North Wilke Road east frontage road curves away from Route 53 toward Rand Road.
The two trucks came to rest about 1,000 feet apart from each other — the dump truck in the northbound lanes and the white semi-trailer truck in the southbound lanes.
Initially, no life-threatening injuries were reported for either truck driver. Initially, no other vehicles were known to be involved in the crash, and no other vehicles were known to be hit by power lines.
One person, who arrived to observe the crash scene involving the power lines, said smoke came out of the circuit breaker panel in his home nearby when the crash occurred.
ComEd reported 600 people were without power at 1:40 p.m. There may have been thousands of people without power immediately after the crash before ComEd workers began to isolate the damaged lines. ComEd crews immediately went to work to repair the power lines, and by 4:15 p.m., ComEd reported all power was restored in the area.
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