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5 dead in Illinois fatality; sheriff blames "Thrill Hills"

Drivers are confident on roads they know well. Maybe you've felt the discomfort of driving on a road outside Chicago or out of state. A driver is likely to remain on high alert while on a strange road, a very different feeling than he or she has when driving close to home.

Have you ever heard someone say "I could drive this road blindfolded"? Knowing all the intersections, stop lights, speed limits and traffic patterns is comforting, but complacency can be dangerous.

The 49-year-old driver was the sole survivor of a recent, single-vehicle accident in southern Hamilton County. The fatal crash claimed the lives of five passengers, ages 16 to 49.

The Collinsville driver suffered critical injuries when the Chevrolet Trailblazer became airborne and overturned, along a section of road called the "Thrill Hills." The county sheriff said the local nickname described the pit-in-your-stomach feeling motorists experienced when driving too fast along the small "sharp, blind hills."

The veteran sheriff is certain the Trailblazer, like other vehicles in the past, lost control during landing after flying off one of the hills. The car rolled multiple times, ejecting all occupants, except the only passenger wearing a restraint. The passenger died, as emergency responders tried to free him from the wreckage.

A 16-year-old female passenger lived long enough to be airlifted to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Although the driver and most of the passengers lived about 90 minutes from the fatal accident, the sheriff said the victims once resided in the area. A final report, including toxicology test results, will be issued by Illinois State Police.

Roads that drivers think they know are some of the most dangerous ones to drive, because of familiarity not for lack of it. In either case, negligent drivers are liable for the safety of people who share their vehicles and for others on the same road.

Source:, "Five killed -- 4 from Collinsville -- in Southern Illinois crash" Maria Hasenstab, Nov. 25, 2013

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