The victim killed in a fiery two-vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon about four miles north of Willisville in Randolph County has been identified by Illinois State Police.

Mickey E. Clayton, 55 of Franklin died after the semitrailer hauling propane he drove rear-ended a coal truck and caught fire about 2:20 p.m. on County Line Road near its intersection with Black Stump Road.

The driver of the coal truck, 48-year-old Randy E. Edwards of Pinckneyville was uninjured.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. No charges have been filed.

The accident and ensuing fire shut down County Line Road to traffic and knocked out power to Prairie Eagle Mine in Cutler, a spokesman for mine owner Knight Hawk Coal said.

Randolph County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Larry Willis said more than 40 firefighters from several departments responded to the scene.

Willis said firefighters subdued most of the blaze in about an hour, though some coal and truck tires were still burning. Then, Willis, who was positioned about 1,200 feet from the crash, said he noticed something.

“I saw a trail of flames leading from the vehicles into a drainage ditch,” Willis said. “That’s when everybody kind of said, ‘This is not good.’ Thank God the fighters who were trained on propane fires saw that, too. They were able to take cover. About 30 seconds after I saw this trail of flames going into the ditch the trailer exploded.”

Willis said a fireball shot 100 feet into the air.

“How nobody got hurt, I’ll never know,” Willis said of firefighters at the scene.

Second-shift coalminers at Prairie Eagle were sent home after the power was knocked out. Knight Hawk spokesman Jeff Smyth said the power was back on Tuesday evening and operations would resume for third-shift workers.

The coal truck was carrying a load from Prairie Eagle, Smyth said.

Clayton was driving a blue 2007 Freightliner with a propane tank trailer for Specialty Transport Inc. of Waverly. Edwards was driving a red 2007 Freightliner pulling a dump trailer for Beelman Truck Co. of East St. Louis.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. No charges have been filed.

On Twitter: @DW_Norris_SI

(1) comment


That red truck hooked to whats left of a dump bucket doesn't look like any Freightshaker I've ever seen....WSIL has quite a few additional pics on their site, and I still can't believe that only 1 person was killed and nobody else got hurt in all of that. Looks pretty bad in the pics.

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