After two reports of a vehicle in a pond off Route 158 in rural Columbia, Illinois State Police shut down the stretch of highway from Triple Lakes Road to Columbia Quarry Road.
Both calls to 911 — at least one from a passing motorist — were for the same vehicle in the pond, and the driver was still on the scene and uninjured but told emergency responders it was extremely difficult to see where the road ended and the water began.
Columbia Fire Chief Mike Roediger responded to the scene and noted the poor visibility, lack of any light, and hazardous conditions caused by the heavy rainfall in the area earlier. He asked for something like a temporary lighted sign alerting motorists on Route 158 to the danger. As Route 158 is a state highway, it falls under the jurisdiction of ISP, which initially declined to provide any additional signage or notification for drivers.
But Roediger was persistent and after several rounds of communications among ISP, Columbia dispatch staff, emergency responders and the state trooper on the scene, an ISP supervisor ultimately made the decision to shut down the highway at about 9 p.m.
A flood warning for Monroe County is in effect until 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning. The extended forecast calls for lower temperatures and 10-20 percent chances for rain throughout the coming week.