Search on for 3 vehicles in connection to death of Illini wrestler

Search on for 3 vehicles in connection to death of Illini wrestler

PESOTUM — State police are looking for three vehicles that were pulled off the road near the body of a University of Illinois wrestling team member, who was killed Wednesday night in a hit-and-run accident on southbound Interstate 57.

The vehicles, a green car, a white SUV and a third vehicle without a description, were driven away without any of their occupants speaking to police, said District 10 Commander Capt. Louis Kink.

Kink addressed reporters at district headquarters in Pesotum on Thursday afternoon, but had little information to add to what was initially released in the morning about the hit-and-run death of 21-year-old Francis Edelen, who was from the Illinois town of Manhattan.

Mr. Edelen was struck as he was walking along the highway after being involved in another accident.

Preliminary information gathered at the scene by the state police traffic reconstruction unit indicated Mr. Edelen may have been initially struck by a large vehicle, possibly a truck-tractor, semi-trailer combination.

Before being struck and killed, Mr. Edelen had been driving a silver 2005 Hyundai sedan that was involved in a two-car accident about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday on I-57 southbound around milepost 253, about three miles north of Rantoul.

Edelen’s car struck a white 2013 Buick LaCrosse in the rear, causing significant damage, and both vehicles came to rest in the right ditch, police said. The driver of the Buick, identified as Stuart Anderson, 65, of Cissna Park, was taken by ambulance to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Edelen left the crash site on foot “for an unknown reason,” police said. A short distance south of the crash, he was struck by an unknown vehicle or vehicles, according to police.

A witness observed three vehicles stopped on the southbound shoulder near Mr. Edelen’s body. As the witness pulled over to the shoulder, the three vehicles were driven away, police said.

State police are continuing to ask for assistance in finding the vehicle or vehicles that struck Mr. Edelen and left. Witnesses and anyone with information to the hit-and-run are asked to call the state police tip line at 278-5004.