urbana accident

Investigators take measurements Thursday at the scene of an accident between a truck and a pedestrian on a scooter on Vine Street in downtown Urbana.

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URBANA — A 71-year-old Urbana man who was knocked off his motorized scooter by a truck Thursday while crossing Vine Street downtown has died.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup on Friday identified the victim as Joseph G. Wilske. He said he was pronounced dead at 9:37 p.m. Thursday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Mr. Wilske worked as a photographer for The News-Gazette in the 1970s and early 1980s. After living in Florida for several years, he returned to the area.

His death is being investigated by the Northrup’s office and the Urbana Police Department.

Urbana police Detective Duane Smith said just after 1 p.m., Mr. Wilske was crossing Vine Street at East Water Street, near the Schnucks store, on a four-wheeled motorized scooter, going from east to west, when he was hit by a pickup truck.

The driver was making a left turn north onto Vine from Water when he hit the scooter, Smith said. Mr. Wilske was thrown from it, and was unconscious and bleeding from the head.

Smith said Mr. Wilske had just left Schnucks, evident by the groceries strewn on the roadway.

He lived in an apartment complex near Lincoln Square and Smith said police assume he was on his way home.

Smith noted the difficulty of trying to make a left turn from where the pickup driver did and said the only action taken against him for now was the issuance of a traffic ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian in the roadway.

Although he would have been required to submit to blood and urine tests, the driver, a 33-year-old man who listed an address in Oreana, did so voluntarily and showed no signs of impairment.

“He said he was paying attention to vehicle traffic waiting to get across the intersection and he failed to see the gentleman,” Smith said. “He was fully cooperative and very shaken up and appropriately saddened by what he’d done.”

But Smith said the law was on Mr. Wilske’s side.

“Wilske had clearly established himself in the roadway, and once established, all traffic has to allow him to get across,” Smith said. “The law says he was crossing properly because he was going from one curb cutout directly to the other cutout on the opposite side of the intersection.”

The driver is scheduled to make a court appearance Feb. 18.

Anyone with further information, photos or video recordings is asked to contact Urbana police at 217-384-2320 or, if wishing to remain anonymous, Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477 or 373tips.com or via the free “P3 Tips” mobile app.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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