Authorities Investigating Two Recent Deaths


Published on September 19 2021 8:34 pm
Last Updated on September 19 2021 8:40 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Death Investigation2

Local authorities are investigating two recent deaths.

The Effingham County Sheriff's Department responded to the Little Wabash River south and west of Effingham at 2:45pm Saturday. The location is near the Summit and Jackson Township line, at the end of 1175th Street. Two young men who were kayaking down the river spotted a deceased individual along the river bank lodged in between trees and river debris.

Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes said her office, Illinois State Police Investigations, ISP Crime Scene Unit and the Effingham County Dive Rescue Team responded to the scene. The Dive Team removed the individual from the scene and transported him to the morgue at HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital in Effingham. Dive Team Commander Terry Trueblood estimated the individual had been in the water from 10 to 12 days.

Rhodes said at present the individual has not been identified. The body is that of a white male of unknown age with a nautical star on his upper forearm, star on his left elbow, and flames going up his left bicep. The body also has several upper and lower teeth missing. He was wearing gray boxers and no shirt.

An autopsy is scheduled for 9am Tuesday at the morgue to determine the cause of death. Toxicology samples, DNA, fingerprints and dental X-rays will be taken during the autopsy to assist in identifying the individual.

Anyone with information on an individual who fits the description of the body is asked to phone the Illinois State Police at 217-342-7861 or the Effingham County Coroner's Office at 217-342-4651.

A second death investigation is underway regarding an incident that occurred on Saturday at Pilot Truck Stop on North US 45.

Effingham City Police responded to Pilot about 3:15pm regarding an accident with injuries. Upon arrival, police found a deceased black male lying in the truck stop parking lot.

The Coroner's Office was called, along with the Effingham City Police Department Investigations Unit, Illinois State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit, and the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Unit. Fayette County Coroner Dave Harris responded to the scene through his office's mutual aid agreement with the Effingham County Coroner's Office due to the Effingham County office's work at the discovery of the body in the Little Wabash River.

Rhodes said preliminary investigation revealed that 73-year-old Eric Howard of Ft. Worth, Texas was working on his semi in the truck stop parking lot and was struck by a semi driven by 57-year-old David Carr of Clarksville, Tennessee. 

Howard was transported to the morgue at St. Anthony's, where an autopsy is scheduled for 1pm Tuesday to determine the cause of death.

The investigation is continuing by the Illinois State Police, Effingham City Police, and the Effingham County Coroner's Office.

Coroner Rhodes wished to thank all of those who assisted in both incidents, with special thanks to the Dive Rescue Team and Fayette County Coroner Dave Harris.