Authorities over the weekend began investigating two deaths in Effingham County. An unidentified body was discovered in the Wabash River on Saturday and a Texas man was fatally struck by a semitruck in the parking of the Pilot Truck Stop on U.S. Route 45 later the same day.

On Sept. 18, 2021 at 2:45 pm, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Department responded to the Wabash River in rural Effingham regarding a death investigation. The location was southwest of Effingham, near the Summit and Jackson township line (the end of 1175th St). Two young men who were kayaking down the river spotted a deceased individual along the river bank lodged in between the trees and river debris.

The Coroner’s office, Illinois State Police Investigations, ISP Crime Scene Unit and the Effingham County Dive team responded to the scene. The unknown individual was pronounced deceased at the scene by Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes. The Dive team removed the individual from the river bank and was transported to HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital morgue. Dive Team Commander Terry Trueblood estimated the individual had been in the water for 10-12 days.

At the present time, the individual is unidentified. He is white male, unknown age, with a nautical star on his upper forearm, star on his left elbow and flames going up his left bicep. He also has several upper and lower teeth missing. He was wearing gray boxers and no shirt.

An autopsy is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday at HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital 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 this individual.

If anyone has information on an individual who fits this description, please contact the Illinois State Police at 217-342-7861 or the Effingham County Coroner’s office at 217-342-4651.

On Sept. 18 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Effingham city police responded to the Pilot Truck Stop on north U.S. 45 in Effingham in reference an accident with injuries. Upon arrival, officers found a deceased black male lying in the parking lot at the Pilot Truck stop.

The coroner’s office was called, along with Effingham Police Department Investigations, Illinois State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit and the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Unit. Fayette County Coroner Dave Harris responded to the scene as a mutual-aid agreement due to the Effingham County Coroner’s staff at the Wabash River incident.

Preliminary investigation revealed that Eric Howard, black male, 73, of Fort Worth Texas was working on his vehicle at the right rear of his semi in the parking lot and was struck by another semi driven by David Carr, 57, of Clarksville, Tennessee. Eric Howard was pronounced deceased at the scene by Harris.

Eric Howard was transported to HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital morgue by the Effingham County Coroner’s office. An autopsy is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital morgue.

The investigation in ongoing by the Illinois State Police, Effingham City Police and the Effingham County Coroner’s office

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