Man survives Mahomet crash, but SUV hard to find
MAHOMET — An Edgar County man survived a dramatic vehicle crash early Saturday that police had a hard time finding.
Mahomet police officer Becky Bragg said a man with blood all over his face came into the Mobil Super Pantry at the northwest corner of Oak and Lombard streets about 2:35 a.m. and said he had crashed into trees.
Bragg said the man, in his 50s, appeared confused and "wasn't making sense," making her suspect he had been drinking.
"He didn't know where he was. He couldn't tell me where the car was. He thought he was north of Gibson City," she said.
Bragg said she learned that the man, whose name has not been released, is from Marshall and had been helped by police about an hour earlier in Ford County when he ran out of gas. She contacted his family and learned that he suffers from schizophrenia. He told her he was on his way to visit family in Virgil.
The man was taken to Carle Hospital in Urbana for treatment of mostly facial injuries, including a broken nose, caused by the air bag deploying, she said. There was no alcohol in his system.
Bragg and three Champaign County sheriff's deputies spent almost an hour driving in and around Mahomet trying to locate the accident.
As she sat at the busy T-intersection next to the Super Pantry headed south on Lombard, Bragg said, she noticed dirt on the grassy corner. Her eye followed that to the south across Oak, which is also U.S. 150, when she looked up and noticed broken tree branches.
On the south side of 150, just east of the Dairy Queen, she found the wreckage of the man's 2006 Ford Explorer upside down in a heavily wooded area off the road.
"He had been southbound on Lombard and went to turn west on Oak (150). He went at a southwest angle up the embankment, over a fence, and in between trees," she said.
Bragg estimated the driver hit eight to 10 trees, knocking only one over completely, before the sport utility vehicle hit a tree with enough force to flip it over, causing it to land on to its roof.
"It was wedged in the trees. The car was so compacted I don't know how he got out," she said. The man told her he got out through the passenger side window.
Bragg said she and deputies found dirt and several pieces of the heavily damaged SUV in the lot of the Dairy Queen to the west.
She said no tickets would be issued due to his mental state.
"He still doesn't know he was in Mahomet," Bragg said a few hours after the crash.