Man dies in truck accident near Thomasboro
THOMASBORO - A Rantoul man apparently drowned after getting out of his wrecked truck in a rain-swollen drainage ditch Wednesday night.
Champaign County sheriff's Sgt. Dan Coile said the accident happened about 8:30 p.m. at the T-intersection of county roads 1200 E and 2400 N about two miles southwest of Thomasboro.
Robert G. McDonald, 54, who lived in the first block of Charles Drive, was driving his pickup truck north on County Road 1200 E when he failed to stop at the T-intersection with 2400 N and drove into a creek that runs along the north side of 2400 N.
Coile said a woman driving by saw the truck nose down in the ditch, submerged in water up to the engine compartment.
When deputies arrived, they found the door open and no one in the truck. After talking to a person related to Mr. McDonald, the registered owner, they learned that he and a friend had gone to a birthday party in Champaign but Mr. McDonald was not home yet.
Coile said when the towing people pulled the truck up out of the ditch, which appeared to be filled with about three feet of water, they saw his body.
"It looked like he ran down in there, put the vehicle in park, tried to get out and slipped," Coile said. "He was under the truck."
Fearing that there may have been a passenger with him, deputies called for help from the Cornbelt Fire Protection district's dive team. Thomasboro firefighters also helped with the rescue but no other people were found. Coile said deputies later located the man who had been with Mr. McDonald.
Coile said alcohol may have been a factor. They found several beer cans at the accident site and learned from people at the party where Mr. McDonald had been that he was intoxicated. He had left the party in Champaign about 8 p.m., Coile said.
Coroner Duane Northrup said an autopsy would be done on Mr. McDonald and toxicology tests run.