Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 28, 2013

Coroner reports 22 fatalities in 2013

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Jefferson County had 22 fatalities in 2013, according to year-end statistics provided by Coroner Eddie Joe Marks.

Of the 22 accidents, seven involved motor vehicles and three were motorcycle related. There was also one tractor rollover, a fatality involving a train, and two fire-related deaths. Marks said two of the fatalities involved drugs and/or alcohol, and there were six deaths related to medical causes, embolisms and/or falls. There was also one homicide in the county this year — occurring in Bonnie in October.

Jefferson County had nine fatal traffic accidents in 2012 and eight in 2011. There were a total of 21 accidents resulting in fatalities in 2012.

The coroner’s fiscal year begins in December, and Marks had his first fatality in December of last year when Frank J. Hortin, 53, of Waltonville succumbed to injuries sustained in a home fire.

A house fire in Mt. Vernon on Feb. 6 claimed the life of 63-year-old Donna Romano of 2023 College Street. Romano, who was physically disabled, was trapped inside her home, according to Mt. Vernon Fire Department Assistant Chief Kevin Sargent.

The first traffic fatality occurred in April when Shawn W. Willard, 30, of Mt. Vernon, struck a deer on Illinois Highway 148. The vehicle collided with a culvert, causing the gas tank to rupture. Marks said Willard died from blunt force trauma.

A Mt. Vernon man was struck by a Union Pacific Railroad freight train on June 8. The victim, 27-year-old Dominique D. McCrae of the 400 block of South 15th Street, was fishing on the railroad trestle near Atchison Creek, just south of Bonnie.

Two people were killed in a truck-motorcycle accident on June 21 in Woodlawn. Billy Philpot, 53, of Vandalia, and Debra Graham, 50, of Mt. Vernon, were the occupants of the motorcycle that was struck by an eastbound pickup driven by Neal Dailey, 41, of Woodlawn. Marks said Dailey was attempting to turn into the Shell station on Illinois 15 when he struck the westbound motorcycle.

Three days earlier, Mt. Vernon resident Frank Owens, 74, was found slumped over the wheel of a car in a wooded area southwest of Belle Rive. Owens died in the single-vehicle accident.

Another motorcycle crash in late June claimed the life of an O’Fallon man on Interstate 57 at mile post 96. The crash occurred after the motorcycle hit a large bump in the road. The bike then went out from under the rider, and he and a passenger hit a guardrail. The passenger survived the crash.

A Valier man was killed in a single-vehicle accident just inside the Jefferson-Franklin counties line on Aug. 17. Ronnie Stroud Jr., 23, was southbound on Illinois 148 when his vehicle ran off the roadway. He overcorrected and came back across both panes of traffic. The car struck several trees, overturned and came to rest down a large embankment, according to reports.

A 70-year-old Woodlawn man, Alan Dempsey, died as a result of a mowing accident on Labor Day. Reports state Dempsey was mowing hay on a hillside west of Woodlawn. Dempsey had stopped the tractor and attempted to get off. The tractor then started to roll and Dempsey attempted to get back on the moving tractor and was ran over by the rear tire.

Three Mt. Vernon residents were killed in a crash on Interstate 64 near the Woodlawn exit on Sept. 26. Marks said the three victims were ejected from an SUV they occupied while traveling east on the interstate. Killed in the accident were the driver, 51-year-old James Watt, and passengers 57-year-old Roberta Jones, Watt’s sister, and 52-year-old Derlorise Jones, a cousin. The SUV was rear-ended by a car driven by 20-year-old Aaron Myers of Simpson, who apparently fell asleep. He was treated and released.

The county’s only homicide occurred in early October when an elderly Bonnie woman was killed at her residence. Timothy Newell, 42, the adopted grandson of the victim, was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Newell is accused of stabbing Rita Newell, 84, with a knife. He was arrested in Missouri within 48 hours of when the crime was discovered. Law enforcement officials discovered the gruesome scene after being asked to conduct a well-being check of Rita Newell from a relative out of state.

Marks had three suicides — two by hanging and one by use of a gun — in 2013. There were seven suicides reported in 2012. Marks performed 17 autopsies during the year and signed 359 death certificates after receiving 360 notifications.