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5 killed in crash in Ill.; van coming from Calif.

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(AP photo)
Emergency personnel gather at the scene Monday near Vandalia where a van (at left) veered off a southern Illinois highway and overturned several times, killing five people and sending six others to hospitals.

ST. LOUIS – A coroner said the five people killed and six hospitalized after a van careened off of a southern Illinois freeway were men returning from a California religious event.

Fayette County Coroner Bruce Bowen told The Associated Press he’s trying to contact relatives of the five men who died at the scene of the wreck Monday morning on Interstate 70 about 70 miles east of St. Louis. Their names weren’t released.

Bowen said the driver is among the six people hospitalized.

Illinois State Police said nine passengers in the 15-person van with Maryland license plates were ejected, leaving Bowen to question how many of the occupants were wearing seat belts.

Authorities said it appears the van initially swerved onto the freeway’s grassy median before veering back across the highway and overturning.

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