Three die in Illinois collision

Friday, October 6, 2006

A Greencastle couple died late Thursday in a two-vehicle accident on Illinois Route 1, just north of Lawrenceville, Ill.

Richard Smelcer, 33, and his wife of six weeks, Gina Pelfrey Smelcer, 25, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 11:08 p.m. accident. They were in a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer also occupied by Smelcer's parents, Lloyd and Dorothy Smelcer, Marshall, Ill.

Dorothy Smelcer also died in the accident, and her husband Lloyd was seriously injured.

According to police reports, Richard Smelcer was driving south on Illinois Route 1 when his SUV crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming 2000 Freightliner, driven by Billy Owens, Harrisburg, Ill. The collision caused the semitractor trailer to overturn. Owens was not injured.

A report from Lawrence County (Ill.) Coroner Shannon Steffey states that Richard, Gina and Dorothy were pronounced dead at the scene. Lloyd was taken to Lawrence County Memorial Hospital for treatment and was later transported by helicopter to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. He remained hospitalized Friday evening.

Illinois Master Sgt. John Gardner told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial that he did not believe that alcohol, drugs, or speed were factors in the accident.

"This accident has all of the indications that the driver of the SUV fell asleep at the wheel," Gardner said.

The Illinois State Police are still investigating the accident.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department was assisted on the scene by Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Illinois State Police, Lawrence Allison Fire and Rescue, Lawrence County Ambulance Service, and Blue Star Ambulance.

Arrangements for Gina are pending at Bittles and Hurt Funeral Home, Greencastle, while arrangements for Richard and Dorothy are pending in Marshall, Ill.

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