Metro-East News

Girl finds fingertip left behind after fatal crash

The driver of a Toyota Camry struck a utility pole and pushed a construction dumpster into another car and a house in a fatal crash Dec. 30. After the crash, a young girl found a part of the victim’s finger on the porch.
The driver of a Toyota Camry struck a utility pole and pushed a construction dumpster into another car and a house in a fatal crash Dec. 30. After the crash, a young girl found a part of the victim’s finger on the porch.

The day after an explosive fatal crash in Belleville, a young girl who lives next-door went to check out the accident scene and found the tip of a human finger on the porch.

Harold Sanders, 56, died Dec. 30 after he sped his Toyota Camry across the Illinois 158 and Frank Scott Parkway intersection and struck a stop sign. From there, the car crashed into a utility pole and then a large construction-type trash bin — which was pushed about 30 feet back by the force of Hayes’ car, crashing through a garage door and into a house.

The scene was messy, said homeowner Mike Hayes, and there was debris everywhere. Half of the car was towed away, much of the debris was shoveled into the trash bin and the rest — bits of glass and other small particles — still littered the porch and driveway.

It was his daughter who found the finger the next day.

“I couldn’t fault them,” Hayes said. “It was an explosive crash.”

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. said investigators noticed the tip of the finger was missing once they got back to the morgue, and went back out to search for it in the dark — but they didn’t find anything. The next morning, they went back out to search, and again did not find anything.

I couldn’t fault them. It was an explosive crash.”

Homeowner Mike Hayes

Even with splash lights to illuminate the scene, it’s possible to miss something, Dye said — especially something as small as the tip of a finger.

Once Dye took office as county coroner, he implemented a policy to ensure that no body parts or evidence would get left behind after any messy deaths.

“It was a real small slice of finger, it probably got sliced off in the accident,” Dye said. “It can happen, and you just can’t find everything at night ... we did everything we could do.”

harold sanders
Harold Sanders died Dec. 30 in a car crash in Belleville. Provided by Nash Funeral Home

Hayes’ home was being renovated at the time of the crash, so no one was inside when the accident happened. Because of where the home sits, just south of the busy Illinois 158 and Frank Scott Parkway intersection, Hayes said his house has been hit three times in the past 18 months, including the Dec. 30 crash.

“I’d love to get more heat on the intersection,” Hayes said. “We get wrecks out here a lot.”

Toxicology reports have not come back yet, Dye said, but he believes Sanders died of blunt-force trauma from the impact of the crash.

Sanders was born and raised in East St. Louis. He attended Lincoln Sr. High School and Belleville Area College, according to his obituary. He worked at the Juvenile Detention Center, Salvation Army and New Vision Behavioral Health Center.

This isn’t the first time someone has found a body part left behind at the scene of a fatal crash in St. Clair County.

Family members of a man who died in a 2015 car crash sued the coroner’s office after claiming they found a piece of skull and hands at the scene of the crash days after it happened.

Jared McPherson, 25, and Brian Lee Hubbs, 37, died in a fiery car crash on Aug. 8, 2015 off northbound Interstate 255 near Collinsville Road. Their truck left the road, struck a tree, then caught fire.

Rick Stone was coroner at the time and the St. Clair County lawsuit was still pending in January.

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