Latest winter storm claims life of Catlin woman on I-74

Latest winter storm claims life of Catlin woman on I-74

ST. JOSEPH — A Catlin woman was killed and a Catlin man injured in a three-vehicle accident on a snow-slick Interstate 74 Saturday afternoon.

The accident happened at 3:44 p.m. about 5 miles east of Urbana.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said the woman who died was Kristy Etchison, 33. She was a passenger in an eastbound van that collided with a box truck that had come through the median.

Illinois State Police said the driver of the westbound truck lost control and crossed the median.

Lt. Josh Reese was one of several firefighters from the St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Protection District to respond. Reese said Ms. Etchison and the van driver, identified as Benjamin Knight, 37, also of Catlin, were trapped in the wreckage. It took firefighters about 45 minutes to free Knight. He was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where he was listed in fair condition Saturday night.

Northrup said Ms. Etchison was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:55 p.m. Reese said firefighters remained on the highway until 5:30 p.m.

The driver of the box truck was Bidemi O. Ajobiewe, 35, of Champaign. He was ticketed for improper lane usage, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and not having a valid classification on his driver’s license.

Police said a third car was hit by median wires that were broken when the box truck broke through them. The driver of that car, George W. Sarver, 57, of Champaign, was not injured, nor was his passenger, Rebecca Sarver, 54.

A passenger with Ajobiewe, Bryce Brown, 31, also was not injured, police said.

Reese said the box truck and the van ended up in the ditch on the east side of the highway while the car was still on the road in the eastbound lanes. Both of those vehicles were heavily damaged.  

A telecommunicator from the Pesotum post said the accident was the worst of several in the nine-county District 10 region Saturday afternoon and evening. Police said between 2 and 9 p.m. Saturday, District 10 troopers responded to 53 calls for service.

In addition to the fatal crash involving Ms. Etchison, there were 39 vehicles in ditches or the median, 12 property damage crashes and another property damage crash that resulted in the driver being arrested for driving under the influence.





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Heather J. wrote on January 18, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Very sad. Prayers to the involved and their faimilies. 

whatithink wrote on January 19, 2014 at 6:01 am

Good thing the spent millions of taxpayer dollars for the cable system to keep this from happening.  Somebody is getting rich off of repair those cables, not a week goes by they aren't hit.

Sorry for this poor lady and hope they throw the book at the idiot in the box truck.

GimmeAbreak wrote on January 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

I was traveling eastbound past this accident last night and the vehicles involved were still there and surrounded by emergency vehicles. As sad as the situation is, I hate to break it to the other commenters, but a guardrail was not going to stop this truck, either. It was massive, literally the largest box truck that's made; the next size vehicle up the ladder would be a semi. If you travelled on I-74 during or after winter storm Ion, you would have seen that those guard wires probably saved many cars that left the roadway from crossing over into oncoming traffic and potentially being much worse. It's not their fault that this happened, it's the box truck's driver who is at fault for not driving in a manner appropriate for road conditions. 

mattd149 wrote on January 19, 2014 at 7:01 am

Ya its pretty sad they have put them on all highways and they dont stop the trucks. Figures illinois would give someone money for something that doesn't work.

mia moore wrote on January 19, 2014 at 9:01 am

  Hearts are aching throughout the flat track community, for our brother (Ben Knight) and for Kristy's family (especially her darling children).
  Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Ben. Words can't express how sorry we are... Godspeed, Kristy.