By Marni Pyke
No serious injuries were reported after a small airplane with four people aboard made an emergency landing at 11:10 a.m. Thursday in the southbound lanes of I-355 near New Lenox, authorities said.
The surprise landing shut down two lanes of I-355 for about four hours, causing traffic issues.
The pilot of the single-engine, fixed-wing Beech B24R was flying south “when the aircraft began to experience an unknown engine problem,” Illinois State Police said.
“The pilot and three passengers were transported to a local area hospital with nonlife threatening injuries,” Illinois State Police Trooper Omoayena V. Williams said.
The pilot was identified as James M. Bufton, 39, of Wilmington. The passengers, all of Wilmington, were Paige M. Bufton, 20, Kirstyn McKim, 21, and a 15-year-old girl.
The landing damaged the front end of the plane and its left wing.
The Beechcraft landed north of the I-80 exit from I-355, near Route 6.
The two left lanes of I-355 were shut down at 11:18 a.m. and remained closed until 3:30 p.m. while police investigated.
The website FlightAware indicates the airplane departed from the Lewis University Airport in Romeoville.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said they also are investigating. FAA records indicate Bufton received a private pilot certification in October 2020.
• Daily Herald staff writer Jake Griffin contributed to this report.