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Traffic is stopped as motorists approach a semi (left) on its side in the north ditch that collided with a car on U.S. 6 on the east side of La Salle near the Utica Shortcut. NewsTribune photo/Tom Collins
A Utica man was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when his car crashed, nearly head-on, into a semi on U.S. 6 in La Salle, just west of the Utica shortcut. Douglas R. Porter, 53, of 503 N. Bluff St. is a patient listed in critical condition in St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria, where he was flown by helicopter directly from the scene. An investigation is pending, but La Salle police said a preliminary analysis showed Porter’s eastbound Nissan sedan entered the wrong lane and into the path of an oncoming semi. The semi driver, Bruce North of Streator, told police he was unhurt. North said he was headed west on U.S. 6 approaching Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club when the Nissan entered his path and the driver seemed to steer at him. North said he took evasive action to avoid a collision, causing the semi to roll onto the north shoulder, but the sedan still hit him. “If he’d have hit me head-on,” North said, “he wouldn’t be alive.” Porter had to be extricated from his car, which was demolished on the driver’s side front end. La Salle police and Utica Fire and EMS conducted the extrication and moved Porter into a waiting ambulance, where he was treated until a LifeFlight helicopter arrived and landed near a home on the north side of U.S. 6. The accident remains under investigation and a state police reconstructionist was summoned to the scene. La Salle police chief Rob Uranich said charges may be pending. La Salle police closed U.S. 6 between Interstate 39 and Route 178, diverting eastbound motorists onto Interstate 80 via I-39. Authorities then announced the road would remain closed two to three hours for a thorough investigation. Peggy Burgoni of rural Utica, who resides near the accident site, called upon authorities to add a turn lane onto the Utica shortcut and to make other improvements to reduce the chance of an accident. “This is the second accident at this corner in a month,” Burgoni said. “It’s a very bad section.”