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.