NOKOMIS – Police said a van-train collision near Nokomis Wednesday evening had resulted in four deaths.
The Illinois State Police said the accident had happened at 6:49 p.m. and involved a van with a driver and four passengers, all aged between 77 and 89, and a freight train. "Three occupants (of the van) were pronounced deceased on scene," said the state police statement.
"Two other occupants were transported away from the scene and later flown to St. Louis area hospitals. One of the occupants transported later succumbed to their injuries. The fifth occupant remains in critical condition."
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State police say the van was heading south on Christian County Road 1800 North and failed to yield the right-of-way to the oncoming train. "As a result, Unit 1 (the van) was struck in its driver side by the front of the train," police said.
Police did not identify those involved, pending notification of their families. The driver was described as a 79-year-old man from Pana; the passengers were described as all living in Pana: an 89-year-old man and three women, ages 77, 87 and 89.
Christian County Sheriff Bruce A. Kettelkamp, who had been to the scene, said the crash had involved a Union Pacific freight train which had struck the van on the county road near Illinois 16 about six miles east of Nokomis.
“The people in the vehicle had been at an ice-cream social out in the country,” the sheriff said.