Train hits farming vehicle, driver dies

By Anna Carrera

Published 04/24 2014 08:12PM

Updated 04/28 2014 10:58AM

Latest: 5:49 pm, 4/25/14, Friday
TOLONO -- People across Central Illinois are remembering the man who died after being hit by a train Thursday night. It's been an emotional 24 hours for family and friends of 42-year old Brent Stewart.

The manager of Illini FS, where Stewart worked, says they're out of emotions after all that's happened, but they want to remember all the great ways Stewart impacted their lives. Stewart worked at Illini FS, in Tolono, as an operator. He's been there since 1999.

Thursday night, Stewart was spreading fertilizer on fields just south of Champaign. Investigators say he was hit by an Amtrak train while driving over an unmarked railroad crossing.

People who knew Stewart say they'll remember his positive attitude. The general manager says this is the type of accident you hope you never have to go through.

He and the rest of the Illini FS workers send their condolences to Stewart's family. Stewart lived with his wife in Newman. Funeral arrangements are still pending.
Latest: 4:42 pm, 4/25/14, Friday
SAVOY -- New details are being released about a fatality after a train hit a farm implement. It happened just south of Champaign, about 7:10 pm Thursday.

42-year old Brent Stewart was in the cab of a sprayer when the crash happened. Investigators say Stewart was driving across an unmarked, private crossing. They say he was coming out of the field when a northbound Amtrak train hit him.

Authorities say the train was probably going full speed at the time. Stewart was airlifted to the hospital but was pronounced dead about an hour later. Stewart was from Newman and worked for Illini FS, based in Tolono.
Update: 8:56 am, 4/25/14, Friday
SAVOY -- Authorities say one person has died after an Amtrak train hit a farm implement. The driver of the farm equipment, 42-year old Brent Stewart, died from his injuries Thursday night. The crash happened after 7 pm, near Route 45 in Savoy, right across from WalMart.

About 100 people were onboard. All the passengers from that train finally made it to the station, but it was a long night for everyone involved.

People who were onboard are a little shaken up. This wasn't the first unplanned stop the train made on its way to Champaign from Carbondale. Passengers say it also had to stop shortly after it left because a woman needed medical attention. Authorities say no one on the train had major injuries.

Witnesses say when the train hit the tractor, it sounded like a transformer exploded. Passengers say they could feel the impact. They were glad the train didn't go off the tracks.

"The whole train rocked," said Tom Drysdale, who was a passenger on the train. "You could see tires flying by the windows of the train. There was smoke on both sides of the windows and you could smell the burning of the fuel. Immediately we knew we had hit something big and that it wasn't going to be good."

"Just a lot of thoughts running through your mind," said Sara Dalbey, who is Drysdale's girlfriend. "What happened? What did you guys hit? He was under the impression that he hit something because he said he saw some flames, something seemed to explode and then there were a lot of emergency responders."

Passengers say the power went out on the train after the crash. The train had to get pulled back to the station with another engine. The train and all its passengers finally got back around 9:30 pm, after being stuck on the tracks for hours.

There were people at the station waiting for that train as well. But they said they're going to have to take a bus to wherever they're going since the train is out of service.
Original: 9:10 pm, 4/24/14, Thursday
SAVOY -- WCIA is on the scene of a train vs. farm equipment accident. It happened after 7 pm. A witness said the collision sounded like a transformer explosion.

The train stopped east of WalMart. A medical helicopter left the scene with the driver of the farm equipment. The condition of the victim is unknown.

Route 45 was blocked for 45 minutes, but has since reopened. About 100 people were on the train and are still there. There is visible damage on the train.

This is a developing story and we will update this article as we get more information.

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