Monticello mourns a young life cut tragically short in I-72 accident


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MONTICELLO — Monticello residents spent Wednesday grieving over the sudden death of one of their own on a rural interstate highway.

On Wednesday morning, Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup announced that Tori Lanter, 17, was the driver of a silver 2005 Scion that rolled over and crashed Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 72 near Rising Road in Champaign.

Northrup said Ms. Lanter was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where she was pronounced dead at 5:55 p.m. Tuesday.

Ms. Lanter was a senior at Monticello High School.

A passenger in the vehicle, Isiah W. Hancock, 20, remained in critical condition at an area hospital.

A relative, Susan Pryde, started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the family's expenses.

"Tori was a beautiful young lady who always had a smile and a hug for me," Pryde said. "She was so full of life. She would light up a room just by being there."

Monticello Mayor Larry Stoner said the Monticello Rotary Club held a moment of silence for Ms. Lanter and the other victim of the crash.

"This has hit the community pretty hard, especially at this time of the year," Stoner said. "I heard only positive things about Tori. It is all very unfortunate. We are keeping both families in our thoughts and prayers."

"We have no guarantees for tomorrow," said Monticello Superintendent Vic Zimmerman in a tweet posted on Wednesday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our student's family and friends, The Sage family grieves together during this tragic time."

"I know all the ministers in town were invited to come to the school on Wednesday morning to provide help," said Monticello attorney and Parkland College board member Jim Ayers. "Tragedies like this tend to bring a community together. Nobody wants to see a young person die before their time."

Monticello Alderman John Miller said news of Ms. Lanter's sudden death hit has had an impact on many city residents.

"It is a terrible tragedy," he said on Wednesday evening. "I feel sorry for her family, and know that our prayers are with her family."

The school district released the following statement Wednesday morning: "Tori Lanter was a senior at Monticello High School. We are saddened by the tragedy of her passing. MHS Principal Adam Clapp met with the high school faculty and staff this morning and then addressed the entire student body before first hour. We have counselors available for our students, faculty and staff today and tomorrow at Monticello High School. We appreciate the love and support from surrounding school districts during this difficult time. Please keep Tori's family and the Monticello High School family in your thoughts and prayers as we grieve this loss together."

Northrup said no autopsy was performed, but an inquest may be held later.

State police said Ms. Lanter was driving east on I-72 when her car left the highway and hit the guardrail at the Rising Road overpass at 3:35 p.m.The car crossed the center median and westbound lanes, smashed into the guardrail on the north shoulder of westbound I-72, then rolled multiple times, ejecting the Allerton man and partially ejecting Ms. Lanter.

The crash remains under investigation by the Champaign County coroner's office and the Illinois State Police.