UPDATED: Two dead, three others injured in rural Homer crash

HOMER — Two Indiana residents were killed and three other people injured in a fiery two-vehicle crash north of Homer on Easter Sunday.

“This was by far the worst car fire I’ve been involved with in my 25 years of firefighting,” said Homer Fire Chief Don Happ.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said that Dorothy Doxtater, 62, of Indianapolis, and Scott Doxtater, 33, of Indianapolis, were pronounced dead at the scene at 1:28 p.m. Sunday.

Autopsies of both people have been scheduled for Monday, Northrup said. An inquest may be held at a later date.

Happ said firefighters were called to the scene of a crash at Illinois 49 and Homer Lake Road, north of Homer, at about 12:49 p.m. Sunday.

According to a state police report, a Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mercedes Benz collided at or near the intersection.

Three people were in one vehicle, Happ said, and two were in the other.

“When we arrived, both vehicles were on fire, and two people were still inside one of the cars,” Happ said.

Firefighters extricated them from the vehicle, he said.

“There was a bit of confusion going on, with us pulling some people out of the car and other patients on the side of the road,” Happ said. “It was overwhelming.”

One patient was airlifted to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, and two others were taken by ambulance to Carle.

One of those at Carle was Otis Doxtater, of Indianapolis, the husband of Dorothy Doxtater, according to their son Chris Doxtater of Homer.

“My mom and dad and brother (Scott) had attended Easter services in Indianapolis and were on their way to my home to spend Easter with me here in Homer,” Chris Doxtater said.

He said that his father had been driving the Jeep Cherokee.

“The firefighters were real heroes for pulling my family out of the vehicle and doing everything they could to help them,” he said.

State police listed the driver of the Mercedes-Benz as Xiang Cheng, 19, of Champaign. The passenger was listed as Yuhan Zhang, 22, of Urbana.

Their conditions were unavailable on Sunday night.

Personnel from the Champaign County coroner were called to the scene to attend to the dead.

Firefighters had the fire out within 30 minutes and left by 4 p.m., Happ said. Homer firefighters received mutual-aid assistance from the Ogden-Royal and St. Joseph-Stanton fire departments.

Illinois 49 was closed for several hours on Sunday afternoon while police investigated the crash.

By 4:10 p.m., both cars could be seen in the ditch on the west side of Illinois 49, just south of Homer Lake Road. One car was facing south with three doors left wide open, and the other  faced northeast with the front passenger door open.

Illinois State Police investigators were taking photos of the scene and documenting skid marks on the highway.

The interior of both vehicles appeared charred.

Tracy Lillard of the state police said that Cheng was ticketed for improper lane usage.

The deaths are being investigated by the state police and the Champaign County coroner’s office.

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