ST. LOUIS – None of five men who were killed when their Pennsylvania-bound van veered off a southern Illinois freeway and rolled repeatedly was carrying identification, a coroner said Tuesday with frustration in announcing he had managed to identify three of the dead.
Fayette County Coroner Bruce Bowen said he was unclear why those killed in Monday’s Interstate 70 crash that sent the 15-passenger van’s six other occupants to hospitals didn’t have a driver’s license or other form of identification.
Bowen said he hoped to have the other two bodies identified by later Tuesday and release those names publicly, as Illinois State Police continued investigating what caused the van to veer off the interstate highway and flip over and over, ejecting nine of the occupants.
“I’ve just been going all night” trying to put names to the dead, a weary Bowen told the Associated Press Tuesday. “It’s a very difficult situation – we have bodies and no names. But we’re gonna hopefully get it sorted out today.”
Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the van, which had Maryland license plates, was traveling from Ontario, Calif., to Pennsylvania when it swerved out of control near Vandalia, Ill., about 70 miles east of St. Louis. Police said conditions were dry and clear when it crashed.
Bowen called the scene among the worst he had seen in 13 years as coroner, saying “it was total disaster” and “there were just bodies everywhere.”
The driver, who survived, has been ticketed for improper lane usage and driving with a suspended license, Bond said. His name was being withheld as part of the investigation, which could take weeks, Bond said.
Authorities have said the van appeared to have been heading east after the men attended a religious event in California.