FINAL UPDATE: Trucker who caused fatal crash charged

A SECOND HELICOPTER lands on northbound Interstate 55 near the Lorenzo Road exit Thursday at 10:12 a.m. to airlift victims involved in a five-vehicle accident.

Photo by Eric Fisher

Staff report

The semitruck driver who caused a fatal chain reaction crash on Interstate 55 near Lorenzo Road on Thursday, Nov. 7, has been charged with following too closely and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

According to the Illinois State Police's preliminary investigation two passenger vehicles and two semitrucks were stopped in traffic on northbound I-55, entering the construction zone just north of Wilmington, about 9:30 a.m. A third semi, being driven by Shabbir Patel, 46, from Brampton, Ontario, failed to yield, causing a chain reaction crash that involved the other four vehicles - a Ford passenger vehicle driven by Jessica Kirkland, 20, of Godley; a 2014 Honda Civic being driven by Kenneth Bloor, 34, of St. Peters, Missouri; a semitruck being driven by Christopher Neale, 54, of Lenoke, Arkansas and a semitruck being driven by Georgi Nikov, 50, of Rolling Meadows.

I-55 in both directions was shut down as Wilmington rescue personnel worked on two extrications, one involving a semi-driver, the other involving a passenger vehicle. Two air ambulance helicopters were needed to airlift victims.

Patel and Bloor were transported to an area hospital, where Bloor was pronounced deceased. Kirkland was airlifted to an area hospital with serious injuries.

The northbound lanes of the interstate were closed until late afternoon to allow accident reconstructionists to piece  together the chain of events. The Illinois State Police are investigating the crash, and no further information is available at this time.

Traffic was rerouted off onto IL Route 113 to Route 53 through Wilmington until the highway reopened.