Two Chicago residents suffered serious injuries, and one was pronounced dead following a car versus semi crash outside Matthiessen State Park on Monday.
As of press time Thursday, Illinois State Police and the La Salle County Coroner’s Office had not released the name of the deceased, a 16-year-old male from Chicago, pending notification of next of kin.
A 16-year-old male passenger was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries following the crash, which occurred around 3:20 p.m. Monday on Route 178 in front of the river area entrance at the park.
A 16-year-old female from Chicago was transported to Peoria via LifeFlight helicopter with serious injuries, according to Illinois State Police District 17. A woman who identified herself as the mother of the girl who was flown to Peoria said she was in stable condition Wednesday morning and that the teens in the car, as well as another car of witnesses, were from Lane Tech High and went to the parks to hike.
The helicopter landing zone was set up just south of the intersection of routes 178 and 71.
The semi driver was identified as Robert Black Jr., 68, of Grand Ridge who was driving a 2001 International semitractor-trailer. Black was southbound on Route 178 when he approached the park entrance and a white Hyundai Sonata attempted a left turn onto Route 178 from the park entrance, police said.
The semi hit the car and jackknifed across both lanes of the road while the car came to rest in a ditch, police said. Black refused medical attention at the scene, according to Oglesby fire chief Ron Popurella.
No citations have been issued at this time, but the crash remains under investigation by Illinois State Police and the La Salle County Coroner’s Office. Utica and Oglesby ambulances transported injured people. Illinois Conservation Police also responded.