UPDATE: Bystanders rushed to help pedestrian hit by pickup truck in Urbana


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URBANA — An off-duty Champaign police officer was among good Samaritans who tried to help a woman severely injured in an accident Thursday in downtown Urbana that ultimately claimed her life.

Coroner Duane Northrup said Shelly E. Taylor, 49, died at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana at 6:05 p.m. Thursday from blunt-force injuries she received about two hours earlier.

Urbana police Lt. Rich Surles said James Dickson, 23, of Tuscola, was southbound on Vine Street turning east on to Main Street when he struck Ms. Taylor, who was in the crosswalk.

"I was impressed by the willingness of some of the strangers to do whatever they could to help out," said Aaron Lack, a Champaign police sergeant who came upon the accident within seconds of it happening about 3:47 p.m.

Lack said he was southbound on Vine Street and did not see the contact between the truck and Ms. Taylor.

"I was just driving through that intersection when I saw traffic backed up. People were just starting to get out to help someone we saw on the ground," Lack said.

Lack, a police officer for 20 years, said two other men and a woman also tried to help Ms. Taylor and waited with her until paramedics arrived. Lack said none of the others had medical training, but like him, they were willing to help.

"I just wanted to help out as best I could, making sure traffic wasn't going to become more of a dangerous problem in the middle of the intersection and help out if there was any chance of helping Ms. Taylor," he said.

"She was not communicating, and it was clear it was very severe injuries," Lack said.

Lt. Surles said there was no indication that Dickson was either using a cellphone or under the influence of alcohol or drugs or that Ms. Taylor was somehow distracted.

"All the indications are this was just a conflict between a driver and a pedestrian. It was just an accident," Surles said. "It's heartbreaking."

Surles said Ms. Taylor was crossing Main Street from south to north in the crosswalk when she was hit by the pickup truck. She was just three blocks from her home on a route that her family said she regularly walked, Northrup said.

Although the accident remains under investigation, Dickson was issued a ticket for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and told to appear in court May 10.

Northrup and Urbana police ask that anyone who might have information about what happened to call them at 217-384-2320.

Information may also be offered anonymously with Champaign County Crime Stoppers by calling 217-373-8477, going online to 373tips.com using the free "P3 Tips" mobile app.


Tim Mitchell is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is tmitchel@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@mitchell6).