ALTAMONT — A Georgia man was killed in a crash Sunday afternoon on Interstate 70, about a mile west of Altamont, following an accident involving four vehicles.

Effingham County Coroner’s staff pronounced James Barnes Jr., 68, dead at the scene.

Illinois State Police District 12 reported that Barnes Jr., of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was killed after a vehicle driven by Billy Barksdale, 69, of Gene Autry, Oklahoma, struck the rear end of the Barnes Jr.’s vehicle.

Barksdale was driving a 2016 silver Dodge Ram pickup, which hit Barnes’ 2019 blue Ford passenger car. The vehicles were traveling eastbound on Interstate 70 near milepost 81. The impact of Barnes’ vehicle shoved it into the rear of a third vehicle, driven by Stephen Long, 31, of Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania. Long was driving a 2013 gray Dodge Ram pickup.

The Long vehicle was forced into the rear of a fourth vehicle, a white 2020 Freightliner truck-tractor semitrailer, which was driven by Corey Meyer, 44, of Crocker, Missouri.

Vehicles driven by Barnes, Long and Meyer were stopped in the right lane of traffic, eastbound on I-70, due to traffic being backed up before the construction zone. After Barksdale’s pickup struck Barnes Jr’s Ford car, it caused a chain reaction of collisions.

The 2020 Freightliner had a passenger, Alexander George, 35, of Springfield, Missouri. There were no other transports or injuries reported from this crash.

Barksdale was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, ISP reported.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at or 217-347-7151, ext 138.


Dawn Schabbing is a senior reporter at the Effingham Daily News, covering Effingham City Hall, Unit 40, and special projects. A graduate of Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University with degrees in journalism, she lives in Neoga.

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