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Brutal snow storms compound car crashes on Illinois highways

Illinois motorists were not feeling the love on Valentine's Day as yet another brutal barrage of freezing snow, sleet and ice storm devastated the state highways, dumping almost 6 inches of snow across the area. Highway officials reported multiple collisions, including a fatal accident involving a pickup truck and a train in Macoupin County northeast of Mount Olive. State police partially blame the crash on the brutal winter storms plaguing much of the area, one of the worst years in history.

The incident resulting in the fatality in Macoupin county occurred as the 1997 Chevy pickup truck was heading west and attempting to cross a rural railroad crossing, when it was struck by the train.

According to state police in Litchfield, the accident took the life of a 26-year-old Litchfield resident. A passenger in the pickup was pronounced dead on the scene. Another fatality, age 39, also a resident of Litchfield, suffered serious injuries and was transported to the Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

State officials say the snowstorm had been predicted by meteorologists, who reported the storm would begin around 7 a.m. and last about 5 hours. Its severity continued well into the afternoon, making driving conditions even more hazardous than normal. While state police regularly deal with negligent driving, the below freezing temperatures caused additional slippery and icy roads, augmented by drivers traveling at speeds far too excessive given the road conditions.

One state trooper stated that motorists were encouraged to only be on the roads if absolutely necessary as the icy conditions resembled an "ice skating rink."

Car accidents can be caused by many factors including negligent or impaired driving. Given the state's brutal snowstorms, motorists are encouraged to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary. As the National Weather Service continues to predict additional snow, drivers need to be extra vigilant in making the decision to get behind the wheel. Icy roads are no excuse for reckless or impaired driving. Motorists have to make diligent and attentive decisions, especially in light of emergency snow removal vehicles which can limit visibility and worsen driving conditions. Anyone involved in an automobile accident, compounded by a careless driver, should investigate what his or her rights are on the road, regardless of what Mother Nature brings us.

Source: The State Journal Register, "Winter piles on another 5.5 inches of snow for Springfield" John Reynolds, Feb. 14, 2014

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