Leads sought in fatal hit-&-run of wrestler

Local News

Update: 3:20 pm, 3/22/18, Thursday 

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Police want help identifying those who know anything about Wednesday night’s fatal hit-and-run. It happened about 9:37 pm, on I-57 southbound, near Rantoul.

UI student wrestler Francis Edelen, of Manhattan, Illinois, was hit by a vehicle. He was walking on the road after having been involved in a two-vehicle crash.

It’s unknown why he left the scene of the original crash on foot. His body was found about one-fifth of a mile south of the original crash site.

Authorities think he may have been hit by a larger vehicle, possibly a truck-tractor semi-trailer combination.

A witness then saw three vehicles stopped on the southbound shoulder, near the location of Edelen’s body. They were described as a green car, white SUV and unknown third vehicle.

As the witness pulled over, all three vehicles drove away.

Authorities want anyone with any information regarding the vehicles, drivers or passengers to contact police. The investigation is ongoing.

ISP District 10 Pesotum 
(217) 867 – 2050 

Original: 9:30 am, 3/22/18, Thursday

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Police are asking for help finding the driver of a fatal hit-and-run. It happened about 9:37 pm, Wednesday, on I-57, in the southbound lanes near Rantoul.

21-year old Francis Edelen, a UI wrestler from Manhattan, Illinois, was hit and killed.

Police say two vehicles crashed. The driver of one car was taken to the hospital for minor injuries. Edelen was the driver of the other car.

Authorities believe he got out of the car and walked to flag down help or get a ride when he was hit and killed. His body was found just south of the original two-car accident.

Leaders at the UI Athletic Department say they are “saddened and shocked” to learn of the death of the redshirt sophomore student-athlete.

Illini Wrestling Coach Jim Hefferman said, “No words can truly reflect the emotions that we are going through at this time. Francis was a productive member of our program.”

Athletic Director Josh Whitman said, “Losing someone so early in his life, when he has so much yet to experience and to give, is a tragedy of the highest order.”

Authorities are investigating both crashes. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

ISP District 10 Pesotum 
(217) 867 – 2050

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