Icy crash ends sightseeing tour

Icy crash ends sightseeing tour
By: Arnold Wyrick

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Il. --Four assisted living patients and their caretakers were enjoying an evening of touring Wayne Fitzgerald State Park, in Franklin County, when their tour ended in the freezing cold waters of Rend Lake.
The driver of the van carrying the patients from Meadow Brooks Estates in McLeansboro, Illinois took a wrong turn and drove into the icy lake.

Police still aren't sure why the driver of the van headed down the main boat ramp at Rend Lake Resort shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.  But they believe he may have been following some tracks in the snow covered ice left behind by another vehicle that did drive across the frozen lake.

The large commercial van didn't make it though, and the front end broke through the ice and began to sink.
The two employees of Meadow Brook Estates immediately jumped from the sinking van and began freeing their patients from it.
While one worked to get them to shore, via the back door of the van.  The driver tried to put rocks from the rip rapped shore line under the front tires to keep the van from sinking any further under the ice.
A park supervisor arrived on the scene and began assisting the workers with the removal of the final passenger in the van.  Then he wrapped them all in blankets to keep them warm until, ambulances arrived.
All of the people in the van were taken to Franklin County Hospital for treatment of exposure.  But fortunately none of them were seriously injured beyond being shaken up, and extremely cold.
They all returned to Meadow Brooks Estates later that evening, after being released from the hospital.
A spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources tells Heartland News that in light of what happened at Rend Lake Tuesday evening, there's a new policy being put in place state wide.
Now at any state waterways when they are frozen over, there will be temporary barricades at all boat ramps warning motorists, and others that the lake, or river is covered with ice.