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NTSB Investigating Fiery Eisenhower Crash That Killed 1, Injured 3

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Federal investigators were on their way to Elmhurst on Friday to begin a probe of a fiery crash that left one person dead and shut down part of the Eisenhower Expressway for more than 12 hours.

Three semi-trailer trucks and four passenger vehicles were involved in a pileup around 2 p.m. Thursday in the inbound lanes of Interstate 290 near St. Charles Road.

A team of seven investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was headed to the scene of the crash to determine the cause of the crash and to examine other factors in the accident; including fuel tank integrity, and electronic logging devices from the trucks.

It is very rare for the NTSB to investigate traffic accidents. The agency said it generally investigates 20 to 25 highway crashes a year nationwide.

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said the agency was investigating this crash because three commercial semi-trailer trucks were involved, and because the crash resulted in a fire and a fatality.

Illinois State Police said a 2004 Chrysler sedan, a 2013 International semi-trailer, and a 2009 Peterbilt semi-trailer had stopped in the right lane Thursday afternoon due to traffic on the Eisenhower, and a 2016 Kenworth semi-trailer failed to stop and rear-ended the Chrysler.

That crash pushed the Chrysler into the back of the International semi, which was pushed into the back of the Peterbilt semi, police said.

The International semi's trailer swung into the middle lane, causing a 2016 Subaru SUV to hit a 2016 Ford SUV, which then crashed into a concrete barrier wall, according to police. A 2018 Toyota minivan, which failed to slow down, then rear-ended the Subaru.

The cab of one of the trucks was engulfed in flames, and the fire quickly spread to two of the cars and another truck.

Illinois State Police said the driver of the Chrysler was killed in the crash. Three other people went to hospitals, but their injuries were not life threatening.

The man who was killed was identified as 37-year-old Christopher Follett of Hammond, Indiana, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Christopher and Megan Follett
Christopher Follett, and his wife, Megan. (Credit: Facebook)

Follett's wife, Megan, said first there was shock learning her husband of five years had died; then, crushing sadness.

"I was in denial. When the police came and started to tell me about it, I said no," she said. "You feel for the victims, because obviously these people had families, but you never think for a moment that that is you, that that could be you," she said.

State police said the driver of the Kenworth semi and the driver of the Toyota minivan were issued traffic citations for failure to reduce speed.

All inbound lanes of the Eisenhower were blocked by the crash, and police rerouted traffic to North Avenue. The eastbound lanes reopened at St. Charles Road around 3 a.m.

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