Five hurt in Douglas County crash
TUSCOLA — Five people were injured after a two-car collision in northern Douglas County Saturday night that resulted in a fire and a driving under the influence charge against one of the drivers.
Douglas County Chief Deputy Peter Buckley said the crash happened at 7:53 p.m. at the intersection of Douglas County roads 1050 E and 1450 N, about five miles north of Tuscola.
Buckley said witnesses said Matthew Wheeler, 29, of Arcola, was driving a four-door Pontiac south on 1050 E when he failed to stop for the stop sign at 1450 N, also known as Hayes Road, and collided with an eastbound Ford sport utility vehicle driven by Katelyn Acree, 24, of Villa Grove.
Buckley said a woman in another car saw the collision and spotted a small fire that had started under the hood of Wheeler's car.
Andrea Bratten, 32, of Villa Grove, ran to the car and shouted at Wheeler and his passenger to get out.
"They are dazed and disoriented. She tries to open all four doors but they are all jammed shut," Buckley said.
She found the front passenger window open, stuck her head through and pulled the passenger, Colin Slaughter, 30, of Tuscola, out by the arms. She then did the same for Wheeler, he said.
"The fire originated in the engine compartment under the hood. By the time she got them out, it had reached the dash, then the entire interior was engulfed in flames," Buckley said, hailing her life-saving efforts.
Buckley said Katelyn Acree, and her grandparents, Bonnie Acree, 72, and John Acree, 73, were all injured.
John Acree had to be airlifted from the crash site to Carle Hospital in Urbana. No information on his condition was available Monday but Bonnie Acree was listed in fair condition and Katelynn Acree was treated and released.
Carle also had no information on Wheeler or Slaughter.
Buckley said the crash remains under investigation but it appeared that Wheeler ran the stop sign. He was arrested for that and driving under the influence.
State's Attorney Kevin Nolan on Monday said he had not received the police reports yet to decide what formal charges to file.