Metro-East News

Passenger killed in crash tried to grab steering wheel, driver tells police

A 35-year-old woman died early Friday morning after she was partially ejected from a Jeep in which she was a passenger on Illinois 4, just south of Illinois 140.

Police responded to the one-car accident at 12:08 a.m., according to Illinois Trooper Calvin Dye Jr.

A 2003 Jeep veered off the roadway, went down into a ditch and struck a tree on the passenger side of the vehicle.

The driver, a 27-year-old Collinsville man, was flown to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The woman was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene, Dye said.

“We went to interview the driver at the hospital, and he stated the female passenger grabbed the wheel, causing him to run off the roadway,” Dye said. “The driver stated he was able to gain control of his vehicle on her first attempt, then she grabbed it again causing the vehicle to leave the roadway and hit a tree.”

Dye said troopers were still investigating the accident and whether the driver’s statements were true.

The identities of the driver and passenger were not immediately released.

Officers shut down all of Illinois 4 in the area for nearly four hours while they investigated, Dye said. The area is southeast of Hamel.