Villa Grove 'in shock' over crash that left 2 dead, 1 injured

 

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VILLA GROVE — Two Villa Grove residents killed and another seriously injured in a car crash Friday are being remembered for their huge hearts and lives of service.

John Jones, 75; his wife, Shirley Jones, 77; and their friend and neighbor, Kristine Trudeau, 66, were on their way to Newman to visit a friend in the nursing home when Mr. Jones ran into the back of a piece of construction equipment that was cleaning mud and debris off the highway. The driver of the "skid-steer" went to the hospital later for treatment.

A release from the Douglas County sheriff's office said the crash happened about 4:45 p.m. on County Road 1450 N near 1835 E, about 3 miles east of Villa Grove.

"It was twilight and those things just blend in," said Douglas County Coroner Joe Victor, who was at the crash scene.

He said Mrs. Trudeau died as she was being put into the ambulance. Mr. Jones died at 7:31 p.m. Friday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. His wife remained there Saturday in guarded condition, a victim of multiple fractures, according to her brother-in-law, Bill Jones of Villa Grove.

"The whole town is in shock. They were such a valuable part of our community. They all had servants' hearts and their last act of kindness was reaching out to someone else," said Duane Piercy of Villa Grove, who is the pastor of Victory Church in Camargo.

The trio was intending to visit Piercy's mother, Mary Piercy, when fate intervened.

Piercy said his mother suffered a stroke about a month ago and that before she entered the nursing home about two weeks ago, the Joneses and Mrs. Trudeau "rallied around her," helping her in her home.

Piercy drove to Newman on Saturday to break the news to his mother about her close friends.

"It just broke her heart. They cared so much about others. They were everywhere doing so much for everyone else. That was just who they were," Piercy said of Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Trudeau.

The Joneses are members of the Villa Grove United Methodist Church, which is just down the block from the senior center, where Mrs. Trudeau was the coordinator of the Peace Meal program. Piercy said the three were good friends through the senior center.

Mrs. Trudeau was also known for creating magnificent designer crafts.

"Kristine was coming to our church" in Camargo, Piercy said. "She was in Bible study, prayer group, definitely a woman of faith."

She leaves behind a husband, Larry Trudeau. They lived down the street from the Joneses.

Dr. Bill Jones, a dentist in Villa Grove, said his younger brother was working full time even though he's been retired for years.

"He was teaching Spanish at Heritage High School (in Broadlands). He was a sub, but he subbed the whole last year and almost halfway through this year," said Bill Jones. "There's a shortage of Spanish teachers."

The school district posted on Facebook about the accident Friday night, expressing profound sadness and saying that counselors would be available Monday for those who want help processing the loss.

Likewise, Villa Grove United Methodist Church Pastor Sandi Hire posted on Facebook how much Mr. Jones will be missed by the congregation.

"His humor, his singing, his positive outlook on life. As pastor, I will miss his counsel and his faith. And his love. His love for God and his love for all people," Hire wrote.

Bill Jones said his brother "loved children and loves to sing and he plays banjo and the guitar at the drop of a hat. He sings in the church choir."

Besides work, church and the Villa Grove senior center, Jones said, his brother and sister-in-law were very active in the Masonic organization. They were about to go out of office as the heads of the Order of the Eastern Star chapter based in Tolono.

Bill Jones said John and Shirley Jones have four children each. The Jones brothers, including John's twin, Tom, of Paxton, grew up in Villa Grove. Shirley Jones is from Paxton, according to Bill Jones.

Mrs. Trudeau also grew up in Villa Grove.

"It's such a tragedy," said Piercy. " They were all people of faith and we just believe God has them now and we are going to see them again someday."

Reporter

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).