2003 ford escape

on my way home from work traveling at 65 miles an hour, all of a sudden the oil light came on and i got steam or smoke coming from under my hood, and had to be towed home, after it was towed home I tried to start it and and the engine makes this whining sound now.it sounds as if it is trying to turn over but with less of a cranking sound. is the engine gone in it or could there be another issue? thanks for any help

The presence of a lit-up oil warning light is…ominous.
PLEASE do not attempt to start the engine, as this is analogous to asking somebody to run a marathon while experiencing chest pains–i.e–likely fatal.

There are several possibilities, but none of them are cheap to fix.
All I can suggest is that you have the car towed to a competent independent mechanic (NOT to a chain-run operation like AAMCO, Sears, Midas, Monro, Meineke, Pep Boys or a tire store), and tell them what you have described to us.

Examination of the engine could reveal any of the following situations, and possibly more than one:

An engine that was heavily damaged by running it low on oil
An engine that overheated as a result of a coolant leak or a breached head gasket
A snapped timing belt (assuming that this engine utilizes a timing belt)

Please report back to us when you get a diagnosis from the mechanic, and we can help you to decide on your options at that point. Sincere good luck to you!

The engine is probably toast from running out of oil at high speed. But have a trusted local mechanic take a look. If the car is low miles you might want to have a used or rebult engine installed. But if the engine is in fact fried, I’d probably get rid of the car. An 11 year old Escape may not be worth saving.