Community rallies around crash victim’s family

Local News

MOULTRIE COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — People across central Illinois are grieving tonight. They’re also coming together to show their support for everyone involved in a deadly crash Friday afternoon. It happened near Sullivan at the intersection of 800 north and Route 32.

It is hard to find anyone in Sullivan not doing something to show solidarity. A deadly crash is hard for any community, but for one this size, nearly every member is in mourning.

“The town always pulls together when needed,” said Sullivan Police Chief Andrew Pistorius. “We’re behind them (the family). We’re here for them. We can’t do enough for them.”

Pistorius responded to the deadly crash scene. When asked about it, he described it as, “One is the worst things” he’s seen.

He says it’s the only call he’s ever dreaded during his 16 years with the department. His department wore blue ribbons Monday, five-year-old Mendoza’s favorite color, to show the family they’re not alone.

Those ribbons are just the beginning of what Sullivan is doing to remind the Mendoza family they care. One group organized a meal train. People have a signed up to cook dinner for the family from now throughout October. Though the slots for meals are full, they are still accepting donations of breakfast food and snacks since the meal train only covers dinners. Those items can be donated to the Sullivan Civic Center during normal hours.

“Many of the people who have signed up to provide meals don’t even know the family, but that’s just the kind of community that we live in is that, when there’s a tragedy, everybody comes together and supports the family in need,” said Melissa Krieger. Krieger helped organize the meal train, along with a distant family member of the Mendoza’s.

Becca Caldwell never met Mendoza or his family, but her whole office wore blue in his honor.

“We might not know him; we might not know the family, but that doesn’t matter. The community all just rallies around whoever needs it,” said Caldwell. She believes something should change at the intersection where the crash happened.

“It’s a dangerous intersection. I do drive it often. Scary things happen,” she said. “I think a stoplight would be helpful.”

Caldwell says the one bright side of this is seeing the Sullivan community help a family in need.

“I’m just proud to be here and proud that we are able to support people when they need it, and that’s what makes a small town great.”

Mendoza’s obituary can be found here.

The Sullivan PTO is collecting a memorial fund for the Mendoza-Hooker family. They will have a table set up at a prayer circle at Sullivan Elementary School. You can also donate during Friday night’s football game. For those who don’t live in the area, they can make checks out to SES PTO and mail them to 910 North Graham Street, Sullivan, IL 61951.

The school district also listed the following businesses or organizations that are showing support or donating a portion of their sales to the family. You can find their full Facebook post here. It will be updated as changes come. We have also posted the list as of 6:45 p.m. Monday, below.

Rookies Sports Bar, Mattoon, 20% of total sales Monday, September 30th and Tuesday, October 1st

Lake Land College Laker Athletics, Mattoon, all gate receipts from tonight’s volleyball match, Monday, September 30th and all players will be wearing a blue ribbon to honor Tyson.

Buxton’s Garden Farm, Sullivan, $1.50 from the purchase of each 9″ mum sold through Friday, October 4th

El Vaquero, Mattoon, 15% of sales on Thursday, October 3rd

Taco Amigos, Mattoon, 15% of sales on Friday, October 3rd

KMP Detailing, Mattoon, 25% from all details done this week

Jamie Lynn Booker will be matching 20% of every item sold through her Pampered Chef site and donating it to Tyson’s Memorial Fund for the entire month of October.

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