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Washington Times-Reporter - Washington, IL
  • Accident kills one; deputy also crashes

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  • Despite the seat belt he wore, a young Tremont man was killed when a delivery van struck his car on a highway intersection west of that community Wednesday morning.
    A sheriff's deputy responding to the crash, meanwhile, averted another collision but was slightly injured when he swerved and rolled his squad car into a ditch outside Tremont High School as he was heading to the fatal crash.
    Matthew Schweigert, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident that took place shortly before 7:20 a.m. at Illinois Route 9 and Springfield Road.
    Schweigert was driving a compact-type car north on Springfield, which is controlled by a stop sign at its intersection with Route 9. He went through the intersection and collided with a Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips delivery van heading east into Tremont on Route 9, which has no stop sign at the intersection.
    While Schweigert was wearing a seat belt, the collision caused extensive damage to his car, said Tazewell County Sheriff's Capt. Billy Merrill. An autopsy will be conducted Thursday and details of the accident remain under investigation.
    "We're trying to determine whether he stopped at the stop sign or drove through it," Merrill said.
    The van driver, Milo Franzoni, 61, of Canton, sustained minor injuries that police said were treated at Pekin Hospital. He also was wearing a seat belt, Merrill said.
    The hospital also treated Deputy Paul Helmig after the accident outside the high school.
    With his squad car's lights and siren activated, Helmig was driving west on Route 9 in the oncoming lane around a line of cars apparently heading toward the school's parking lot. Chief Deputy Jeff Lower said Helmig was the closest officer to the fatal crash site about a mile west of Tremont.
    When one of the cars ahead of him began to turn left into the school's lot, Helmig swerved to miss him but lost control of his car on the road, which Lower said was slick and possibly icy shortly after sunrise.
    Helmig's vehicle "did a 180," Lower said, before one of its wheels slid off the road. The car skidded down the roadside's steep embankment and rolled onto its top.
    Helmig required two stitches above his eye before he was released from the hospital.
    Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin

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