Metro-East News

Memorial planned at Staunton High School for sisters killed in I-55 crash

A public memorial service will be held Saturday at Staunton High School in honor of two sisters who were killed in a car accident last week.

Hailey J. Bertels, 20, and her 17-year-old sister, Madisen N. Bertels, from Staunton died at the scene of an eight-vehicle accident Nov. 21.

Madisen was a senior at Staunton High School and her sister was a 2015 alumna, according to a prior interview with Superintendent Dan Cox. Hailey was a junior at Murray State University studying communications disorders.

The public visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in the school’s gym.

High School Principal Brett Allen said the family asked if they could hold the memorial at the school because they were not sure if the funeral home would be able to hold all the guests. Allen said more than a thousand people can be held in the gym.

Allen said the school is continuing to offer its crisis counseling to help students cope with the loss.

“Unfortunately, the kids are going through the motions right now, and we’re just trying to provide the support for them as best we can,” Allen said.

Bartels Sisters
Hailey Bertels, 20, and sister Madisen Bertels, 17, of Staunton, were killed in a crash on Interstate 55 near Hamel, IL. Provided

Illinois State Police are still investigating the crash that killed the sisters and another woman, Vivian Vu, of Joplin, Missouri.

A tractor-trailer driven by a 53-year-old Colorado man crashed into seven vehicles on Interstate 55 at about 6 p.m. Nov. 21.

Eleven other people were injured in the crash near mile post 27, just south of Hamel. Witnesses told police the driver of a semi-truck started “crashing into other vehicles at highway speed.”

A GoFundMe page set up for the Bertels family had raised almost $25,000 as of Monday afternoon.

A private family funeral will be held Wednesday at the Williamson Funeral Home in Staunton.

Kaley Johnson: 618-239-2526, @KaleyJohnson6