[cifnmedia] Two killed in separate I-70 accidents

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 12:55:47 -0700 (PDT)

Local News 

Two killed in separate I-70 accidents

By KIM WIEDMAN, Daily News
Two fatal accidents occurring within a half hour of each other Wednesday night 
closed interstate lanes until early this morning.

Westbound traffic traveling through Effingham on Interstate 70 was detoured at 
Montrose from around 11:45 p.m. Wednesday until around 4:30 this morning as the 
result of a fatal accident.

A second fatal accident that occurred a half hour before closed down both 
westbound lanes of the interstate in the St. Elmo area for nearly 7 1/2 hours, 
with it opening back up around 7 a.m. Traffic was detoured onto U.S. 40 at St. 
Elmo as emergency personnel cleaned up the scene. Traffic re-entered the 
interstate at the Brownstown/Bluff City interchange.

As a result of the accident in Effingham, a Montana man was killed when the 
semitrailer he was driving struck the rear of a second semitrailer approaching 
a night construction zone.

Daniel Rhodes, 40, of Florence, Mont., was pronounced dead at the scene at 
12:30 this morning by Effingham County Coroner Leigh Hammer. An inquest into 
his death will be scheduled at a later date.

According to Illinois State Police District 12, the Rhodes semitrailer and a 
semitrailer driven by Jay Willis, 55, of Alexandria, Ind., were both traveling 
westbound on I-70 just east of Effingham, at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday. Willis was 
slowed and almost stopped due to traffic backed up at a construction zone, 
which filtered the two westbound lanes into one lane. Rhodes vehicle hit the 
back of the Willis vehicle.

When the Rhodes truck crashed into the Willis vehicle, the load of beer carried 
in the Rhodes semi went through the trailer wall and slammed into the back of 
the tractor Rhodes was driving.

Effingham and Teutopolis fire departments responded to the scene to extricate 
Rhodes from the truck.

As a result of the accident near St. Elmo, the driver of a semitrailer was 
killed, and the driver of the second semitrailer was injured.

According to Fayette County Coroner Bruce Bowen, the driver killed in the 
accident has not yet been identified because of a fire that broke out following 
the crash. The office is continuing to work to identify the victim.

The driver of the second semitrailer, George Levels, 60, of East St. Louis was 
transported to Fayette County Hospital, Vandalia, where he was treated and 

According to state police, the semitrailer driven by the unknown driver and the 
Levels semitrailer were westbound on I-70, three miles west of St. Elmo, at 
11:15 p.m. Wednesday. The semitrailer driven by the unknown driver ran into the 
rear of the Levels semitrailer, which resulted in a fire.

Brownstown, St. Elmo, Vandalia and Altamont fire departments responded to the 

Bowen said an inquest will be scheduled for the unknown driver at a later date.

Kim Wiedman can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 128 or 


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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