March 06, 2021

Fatal multiple vehicle accident on I-39

By Chris Johnson


A Pecatonica man was killed Monday afternoon in a five-vehicle crash when the sports utility vehicle he was a passenger in was struck by a semi approaching a construction zone on Interstate 39.

David E. Jones, 74, was pronounced dead on the scene. He was a passenger in an SUV driven by his wife Sara J. Jones, 71, Pecatonica.

Three other people were injured in the accident which involved three more vehicles.

Illinois State Police ticketed the semi driver, Jay S. Taylor, 55, Judson, Ind., for failure to reduce speed after he started the fatal chain reaction accident at 3:06 p.m.

State police said Taylor was southbound on I-39 at mile marker 112 about a mile north of Ill. 72 when his semi truck and trailer rear ended Jones’ vehicle, causing it to enter the west ditch.

According to the ISP crash report, Taylor failed to reduce speed for slower moving traffic. At  Ill. 72 southbound traffic enters a construction zone.

Sara Jones was extricated by the Monroe Center Fire Department and transported to OSF St. Anthony’s Medical Center, Rockford, by Lifeline Helicopter.

She was listed in critical condition Tuesday morning, according to a hospital spokesman.

Taylor was transported to Swedish American Hospital, Rockford, by New Milford ambulance.

Following the initial contact Taylor’s truck struck an SUV driven by William D. Young, 47, Owatonna, Minn. The SUV came to rest in the center median.

Taylor’s truck then continued southbound and struck a passenger car driven by Carol L. Silvestri, 64, Downers Grove. The car was pushed onto the left shoulder.

Finally, Taylor swerved into the west ditch where he struck a passenger car driven by Bernard C. Klotz, 71, Fort Myers, Fla.

Klotz’s passenger, Penny E. Klotz, 69, Fort Meyers, Fla., was transported to Rochelle Hospital by Lynn Scott Rock Ambulance.

Bernard Klotz, Silvestri, and Young were not transported to the hospital.

The Illinois State Police District 1 were assisted on the scene by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Ogle County Sheriff’s Police, the Ogle County Coroner’s Office, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Police, Illinois State Police District 16, New Milford ambulance, Lynn-Scott-Rock ambulance, Stillman Valley ambulance, and Monroe Center Fire Department.

Southbound I-39 was shut down at Baxter Road in Winnebago County. The southbound lanes remains closed for several hours and traffic was detoured onto Ill. 251 around the crash scene.

Traffic on northbound I-39 was briefly shutdown while the Lifeline helicopter was landing and taking off.

The accident remains under investigation.

This was the second accident on I-39 within a five mile area for the day.

The Ogle County Sheriff’s Deputies and Lynn-Scott-Rock Fire Department responded to a two-vehicle crash at mile marker 108 northbound at 10:54 a.m.

In the earlier crash, a northbound vehicle driven by Sharon Schwarz, 66, Franklin Grove, was slowing in traffic when her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Brandon Gerdes, 21, Minonk.

A passenger in Schwarz’s vehicle, Barbara Schwarz, 41, Franklin Grove, suffered a leg injury and was transported to Rochelle Community Hospital.

Gerdes was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid a accident.

A third accident occurred three miles south of the fatal accident on Tuesday shortly after 3 p.m. Details were not available at press time.

This stretch of I-39 has had several accidents since IDOT began a roadway improvement project between Ill. 72 and Ill. 64.

IDOT advises motorists to slow down and use extreme caution when driving through the work zone.

Lane restrictions are part of the construction project.