Fatal accident on U.S. 150 a tragic repeat for Vermilion County family

Fatal accident on U.S. 150 a tragic repeat for Vermilion County family

OAKWOOD — An Oakwood man killed in a single-vehicle accident in Vermilion County early Saturday is the second member of his family to die in a traffic crash.

Vermilion County Coroner Jane McFadden said Tyler J. Baker, 27, was pronounced dead at the scene on U.S. 150, about a half-mile west of Vermilion County Road 600 E, between Muncie and Oakwood.

The accident happened about 12:15 a.m.

Illinois State Police said Mr. Baker was driving a pickup truck east when he left the road for an unknown reason. McFadden described the location as being at the bridge over the Conkey Branch Creek.

The truck continued through the ditch on the right and hit a culvert. Mr. Baker was thrown out as the truck overturned and came to rest on an embankment on the right side of the highway. He was alone in the truck.

Almost three years ago, on June 18, 2016, Mr. Baker's younger sister, Bethany Baker, 21, was killed in a drunk-driving crash in northern Edgar County. The man who was driving the vehicle in which she was a passenger was sentenced to five years in prison and remains behind bars.

Originally from Fairmount, the siblings attended Jamaica High School.

"It's an unbelievable tragedy," said Jim Martinkus, a Champaign attorney whose secretary is the mother of those children and has two surviving daughters, Heather and Alexis, also known as Lexi.

Martinkus said Cheri Baker has worked with him for more than 20 years and endured the deaths of two of her four children in less than three years.

The children's father, Michael Baker of Thomasboro, died July 13, 2017, at the age of 57 of a heart attack.

"It's incomprehensible," said Martinkus, also a father and grandfather. "It puts perspective on everything else. It shows the bounty of our lives: kids, spouses, work that's good. You better embrace the bounties around you because they can be taken from you in a split second."

Martinkus said Mr. Baker was the oldest of his secretary's four children. He was an accountant, Martinkus said, "a real good kid."

Chris Darr, a Champaign County sheriff's deputy who is a cousin of Cheri Baker, said as a teen he baby-sat Bethany and Tyler. He said the family is reeling at the loss of another family member taken too soon.

"I thought he was a really fine young man and a talented accountant. My heart goes out to my family," Darr said. "Losing three of six immediate family members in three years is beyond tragic."

McFadden said an autopsy is scheduled for Monday. She said it appears Mr. Baker was not wearing a seat belt.

The crash is the third fatal accident that troopers in District 10 have handled in the past week.

On Wednesday morning, a Malta woman died from injuries she sustained in a crash with a truck on U.S. 36 near Camargo in Douglas County. On Thursday night, an Urbana man died from injuries he received in a head-on collision on Illinois 47 north of Mahomet.

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