CHAMPAIGN - A former Champaign teen who would have celebrated his 17th birthday today was killed in a single-vehicle accident west of Champaign Thursday night.
Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said Kenneth M. McNeill II, of Tuscola, formerly of the the 3700 block of Summer Sage Court, Champaign, was pronounced dead at 8:35 p.m.
An autopsy done Friday morning showed he died of multiple blunt force injuries sustained in the crash.
Champaign County sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Vercler said it's believed that Mr. McNeill crashed into a power pole more than an hour earlier, based on a 7:21 p.m. report of a power outage made to Ameren Illinois.
Vercler said about 7:50 p.m. power company workers discovered the broken power pole and Mr. McNeill's wrecked PT Cruiser about 40 feet off Rising Road in a harvested cornfield.
Deputies believe that he was driving north on Rising and came upon a curve near Cardinal Road, where he lost control. The car went sideways into a ditch and hit the power pole, breaking it and causing it to come down on the vehicle. The car continued to travel a few more feet.
Mr. McNeill remained in the car, which was upright on all four wheels when found. He was wearing a seatbelt.
Vercler said the car was not easily spotted from the road.
Mr. McNeill was on his way to Mahomet for lacrosse practice, the sergeant said.
The accident remains under investigation.
Centennial High School athletic director Brian Easter said counselors were made available to students this morning. McNeill had been a student at Centennial until transferring to Tuscola High School in February.
“There are a lot of kids shaken up,” Easter said. “It’s rough here.”
Easter said McNeill, who went by Mario, was “a big Chargers fan.”
Centennial principal Greg Johnson said: "Mario was a nice, impressive, well-liked kid. This is a horrible tragedy. The whole school is in shock."
McNeill was a member of the Champaign County Lacrosse team that won a conference championship in 2013.