Driver is lone survivor in Illinois crash that killed five of his relatives as he tried to ‘fly’ their car over popular ‘thrill hills’ after early Thanksgiving party
- The people were killed, including a 16-year-old girl, after going ‘hill-jumping’ in their car, a popular pastime for the locals in an area with four large hills in a row
- Diana Wright, 23, Robert L. Parker, 49, Lori S. Parker, 42, and Tammy A. Delong, 35, died in the crash
- Delong’s daughter, Katelynn Fancher, 16, was also killed
- The driver, Darrell G Delong, 49, whose wife and daughter were killed, was the sole survivor and is in serious condition at an Indiana hospital
PUBLISHED: 10:45 EST, 26 November 2013 | UPDATED: 15:35 EST, 26 November 2013
Five people were killed and one person is fighting for his life after they went ‘hill-jumping’ in their car in Hamilton County, Illinois, on Saturday.
The six relatives went driving after an early Thanksgiving celebration that same evening on a road popular among the locals for its ‘thrill hills’.
But they never made it home after the driver lost control of the vehicle, which flipped multiple times.
Diana Wright, 23, Robert L. Parker, 49, Lori S. Parker, 42, and Tammy A. Delong, 35, and Delong’s 16-year-old daughter, Katelynn Fancher, died in the crash.
Victims: Katelynn Fancher, 16, left, and Diana Wright, 23, right, were both killed in the car crash on Saturday which claimed three other lives. They went for a drive with relatives to ‘fly’ over four popular large hills, but the joy ride ended tragically
Serious condition: The driver of the car, Darrell G Delong, 49, right, is the sole survivor of the crash, which killed his wife, Tammy A Delong, 35, left, and his 16-year-old daughter Katelynn
The driver, Darrell G Delong, 49, whose wife and daughter were killed, was the only survivor. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Evansville, Indiana, where he is in serious condition, according to the St Louis Post-despatch.
Sam Dorris, 22, who was married to Wright, was with them before they headed out to drive the thrill hills.
‘When they walked out the door, they said, “We’ll be back in a little bit”, and they never came back,’ said Dorris, of McLeansboro. ‘I guess they caught a little too much air going over that last hill and lost control at the bottom.’
The killed family were driving in a Chevrolet Trailblazer at about 10:20 pm on Anderson School Road about a quarter-mile north of County Road 1000 North when the sport utility vehicle rolled several times.
‘They never came back’: Sam Dorris, 22, the husband of Diana Wright, 23, who was killed in the crash says he will never do the thrill hill drive again, even though he admits he is ‘good at it’
All but Robert Parker were ejected. He was wearing a seat belt and was trapped in the SUV.
Driving on the roughly four-mile stretch of rural paved road for the fun of flying through the air is a common activity in the area, according to police.
‘There are about four hills that are close together, and if you’re driving very fast, it doesn’t take much for a vehicle to go airborne,’ said Hamilton County Chief Deputy Jason Stewart.
‘Everybody does it,’ said Dorris. ‘I’ve done it. I’m good at it. But I won’t do it ever again.’
Ejected from the car: Both Katelynn, left, and Diana, right, were thrown from the vehicle and killed when it rolled over multiple times after the driver, Katelynn’s father, Darrell, lost control of the vehicle
Robert and Lori Parker were married, as were Tammy and Darrell Delong. Robert Parker was Darrell Delong’s nephew. Robert Parker had worked as an assistant starter at Fairmount Park racetrack.
Wright was a niece of the Delongs and worked at a hog farm, said Dorris, who had been married to her for about three years.
Police said hill-jumping on the road had been the cause of several crashes — many involving deer — and that residents have often complained about speeders.