HUMBOLDT, Ill. (WCIA) — A Coles County woman is hoping for change after her neighbors died in a car crash over Memorial Day weekend.
Husband and wife Rachel and James Sutton died in a crash on Sunday at the intersection of Coles County Roads 1200N and 500E. Coles County Sheriff’s deputies said another car didn’t stop at the intersection’s stop sign and hit the Suttons’ car.
“People have no respect for anybody, and the stop signs mean nothing,” Wendy Dexter said. “It’s a simple enough rule to stop. 30 seconds out of your day. And if you can’t stop at a stop sign, then get on a highway.”
Dexter lives down the road from the Suttons and said she didn’t really know them, but their deaths haunt her. She’s lived in Humboldt for 30 years and said drivers have become more reckless in the last few years.
“There’s probably been 10 or 15 fatalities on this road alone,” Dexter said. “There have been four that I know of.”
In the past two weeks, the Illinois State Police has reported six other deadly crashes across Illinois, including crashes in Douglas, McLean and Kankakee County.
Dexter wants to see change, and Coles County Sheriff Tyler Heleine said he wants to be a part of the solution.
“We try to cover as much ground as we can,” Heleine said. “We do see more serious accidents, sometimes fatals, over the holiday weekends.”
Heleine said when there is a deadly crash or a serious accident like the one in Dexter’s neighborhood, he always brainstorms ways to make the area safer.
“We’ll take a look at the investigation once it’s over, see if there is something we can do or if there is something we can work with the road commissioners and the townships if there’s more signs that needs to be added,” Heleine said.
On top of adding more signs, Heleine said his office is working with IDOT to allow more time for officers to patrol in areas where people report more problems.
“So instead of them being focused on service calls and things of that nature, they can actually go out and specifically look for violators of those traffic laws,” Heleine explained.
At the end of the day, Dexter said she wants drivers to think of others when getting in their vehicles so others don’t have to be scared when driving on country roads.
“I don’t want to get hit, I don’t want to see innocent people get hit going about their everyday lives, not doing a single thing expect living their life and trying to travel down a road,” Dexter said.
Heleine said his office also participates in social media campaigns to remind drivers of safety laws, but the best way to prevent another serious accident is to not be a distracted driver and to follow traffic laws. IDOT said it is always working to improve at-risk locations. More information about what IDOT does to keep roads safe can be found on its website.