Metro-East News

Winter weather leads to two fatal crashes in metro-east

Dangerous driving conditions because of icy roads in the metro-east led to more than 290 vehicle crashes on Friday, and many more on Saturday, including two fatal crashes.

Robert C. Loouveau, 23, of Addieville, died on Friday in a crash on Illinois 153, about a mile south of Lively Grove in Washington County, according to Coroner Mark Styninger.

Loouveau was a passenger in a van driven by his mother, Becka Heitman, 45, of Addieville. Styninger said it appears she slid on the ice and crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Klif Kline, 60, of Coulterville.

Styninger said all occupants had to be extricated from their vehicles. Loouveau and Heitman suffered major injuries and were taken to hospitals.

A woman died on Saturday when an SUV slid through the center median and crashed head-on into a pickup in the area of Interstate 270 and Interstate 255, the State Police said. The driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene. The identities of the drivers, along with other details of the crash, were not immediately available.

Police, firefighters and rescue crews were swamped in virtually every jurisdiction in the metro-east. There were stand-stills on interstates and highways. Some metro-east residents reported evening commutes that took more than two hours.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said his deputies filled out 15 crash reports and responded to about 150 cars in ditches, Friday night alone.

As weather began to deteriorate Saturday, the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency reported that ice was starting to form on vehicles and on roadways in the Belleville, Caseyville, Freeburg and Troy areas. Vehicles again started to go into ditches.

Friday’s conditions led to many people abandoning their stuck vehicles on roadways.

Area churches, including the New Life in Christ Church in O’Fallon on Scott Troy Road, took people in to wait until conditions to improve.

Dagne Barton, the executive assistant to the church’s bishop, was one of six employees welcoming people at New Life. She said at any given time there were about 20 people, and a total of 60 people came through. They left when they felt the conditions were safe enough, Barton said.

Barton said they served people coffee, heated up food for people to eat, showed movies to children and provided space for mothers to nurse.

The last group left about 12:30 a.m. Saturday and departed in a caravan all the way home using their hazard lights, Barton said.

“The church is open until we all get home safe,” Barton said employees told people who stopped in.