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Fatal AccidentSt. Clair County Sheriff’s Department released a photo of the aftermath of a fatal accident near Summerfield in which both vehicles are shown to be overturned off-road.    A Trenton man died Sunday, Sept. 16 from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident in rural St. Clair County near Summerfield. 
    The St. Clair Sheriff’s Department responded to a fatal accident at approximately 11:20 a.m. on Sunday at the intersection of North Grove School and Dressel-Schoene roads. 
    Andrea M. Frein, 35, of New Baden was traveling north on Dressel-Schoene Road in a 1997 Ford SUV when she allegedly failed to yield before entering the intersection at North Grove School Road. Frein struck the driver’s side of a 2018 Ford pickup truck driven by Donn B. Evans, 69, of Trenton. 
    Evans was transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon where he later died. Frein was airlifted to a hospital in St. Louis with unknown injuries. 
    St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department released a photo of the aftermath of the accident in which both vehicles are shown to be overturned off-road.
    The Metro-East Accident Reconstruction Team is currently conducting an investigation to determine the factors leading up to the crash. The estimated completion time is several months.
    Evans was the owner/operator of Lebanon Auto Parts in Lebanon since 1974. He was a former pilot and enjoyed fishing, restoring cars, trap shooting, riding his motorcycle, stock car racing (where he was the track champion at Highland Speedway two years in a row), but most of all spending time with his grandchildren.
    Obituary information for Evans can be found on page 5A.

Fire 7426New Baden Fire Department and several area departments responded to a house fire on Lila Court in New Baden on Sunday, Sept. 16.    Clinton County deputy Eric McClaren was commended Monday night for the off-duty rescue of two Hoffman citizens early Friday, Sept. 14.
    The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call at 4:05 a.m. The female caller stated her home on South Broadway Street was on fire and she could not get out.
    According to Sheriff Doug Maue, McClaren had completed his shift but still had his portable radio on. When he heard the distress call, McClaren realized his Hoffman residence was close by and drove over. 
    Maue said McClaren helped two people through a first-floor window, then broke down the front door to rescue their pets.
    “He didn’t have to go. He was off duty. But he’s a good deputy,” said Maue. “That’s what we call going above and beyond.”
    The Hoffman fire was one of several fires afflicting Clinton County in the past week. On Sunday, Sept. 16, a fire on Lila Court in New Baden destroyed the home of a family of three.
    New Baden Police Chief Scott Meinhardt was on routine morning patrol when he noticed smoke coming from the west side of the house. Upon further investigation, he realized it was on fire and banged on the door, waking up Ottilie Hoffman and her 5-year-old son. Hoffman’s husband Bryan was already at work. She was able to reclaim a few small personal items and her dog, Rusty, before evacuating the house, leaving most of her family’s personal possessions behind.
    “Yesterday we lost our beloved house to a fire,” wrote Hoffman in a Facebook post. “Our house and contents are a total loss. We still have both vehicles and Bryan’s bass boat. 
    “We are so very thankful to have a host of friends and family supporting and caring for us during this time. Prayers are appreciated and coveted while we work through this mess.”
    According to Meinhardt, the fire likely started from a trash can next to the garage. Several local fire departments responded to the call, but the fire spread quickly and engulfed the house, consuming “a good portion” of the structure. Meinhardt described “extensive damage” to the house. While the New Baden Fire Department is still investigating, Meinhardt said they believe it to be an accident.
    “I’m just glad I could be there. The fire moved pretty rapidly. A few minutes one way or another could have made a huge difference,” said Meinhardt.
    A third fire, on South Lincoln Boulevard in Centralia, is believed to have been started by a pot on a kitchen stove early Monday, Sept. 17.
    The three-story apartment building was vacated by Takeshia Williams and her three children, who lived on the second floor where the fire started, as well as Anthony Clark, who lived on the third floor. 
    Centralia Fire Department Chief John Lynch said there were no injuries reported, and though the building is structurally sound, the interior sustained heavy damage.

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