By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON —
Jefferson County had nine fatal traffic accidents in 2012, according to year-end statistics provided by Coroner Eddie Joe Marks.
Of the nine fatalities last year, two were alcohol related. There were eight traffic fatalities in 2011, three of them related to drugs and/or alcohol, according to the coroner.
Of the 21 accidents resulting in fatalities — there were 19 a year ago — Marks responded to three drug/alcohol and fire calls, two involving guns, and one call each for vehicle/train, vehicle/bicycle, and one aspiration-related death.
A Centralia man, 34-year-old Shawn Stone, was killed in the car-train accident on March 26. Stone was driving on North Auburn Lane near Bluford when he was struck by a westbound Norfolk Southern train.
A Woodlawn teen, 18-year-old Anthony Swainston, was killed in October when his bicycle veered into the path of a pickup driven by Blake Fields of Mt. Vernon on Illinois 37 South.
There were three fire fatalities in the county this past year — two in the city of Mt. Vernon — and one in Waltonville. Frank Horton, 53, died of smoke inhalation in a fire at his residence last month.
The gun-related deaths included an accidental shooting in December 2011 [the county’s year runs from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30] in Nason. Kevin J. Green Jr. was killed in that incident. Also, 10-year-old Christian Clark of Granite City was killed in an accidental shooting this past summer near Dix.
Marks responded to seven suicides in 2012, compared to nine the previous year; there were seven autopsies performed compared to 19 in 2011. There were nearly 300 notifications compared to 274 from the previous year. Marks noted that five of the suicides occurred within 1 1/2 months.
“We had no homicides this year. I have to tip my hat off to the city and county police departments,” Marks said. “They have a tough job and do a good job. They make my job easier.”
The coroner signed 325 death certificates this past year compared to 298 in 2011; and signed 140 cremation permits, compared to 142 the previous year.