Abels & Annes

Hill hopping accident in Illinois claims the lives of two teens

Two teenagers were killed and three other occupants injured in a tragic Western Illinois car accident when their attempt at “hill hopping,” or driving over a hill at high speeds to get airborne, ended with their car rolling multiple times and striking a tree. According to WGEM.com, the crash occurred just outside Carthage, Illinois in the 1600 block of North Hancock County Road. The 18 year-old driver lost control of her vehicle as it landed and she was killed along with a 16 year-old passenger.

Locals say the area, known as “Butterfly hills,” is a popular destination for teens looking for thrills, and hill hopping at the location is a common occurrence. Teens often set out for the specific reason to drive over the hill at speeds of 90-100 miles per hour. Police said this was not the first crash at the hill.

“I would have died too,” said a friend of the victims, “it’s not easy to know your friends died doing something that everybody has done.”

Police said there were no drugs or alcohol involved in the crash, and both victims were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.

While these types of accidents aren’t common, there are incidents throughout the country of teens being killed or severely injured after unsuccessful hill hopping attempts. The Chicago Tribune reported a similar incident that occurred in Long Grove, Illinois in 2004 when two teens decided to go hill hopping on a rural stretch of road. The car was traveling 90 m.p.h. when it hit the crest of the hill and sent the automobile careening out of control until it was stopped by a tree. The driver was ejected from the vehicle and survived, but his best friend was killed in the wreck.

The driver, who later pled guilty to reckless homicide, now gives speeches to teens about the dangers of reckless joy-riding. He explains how the invincibility that teens often feel is an illusion, and how by the time he realized this, he had to live with the guilt of killing his best friend.

Another similar incident happened just last year in Ohio when three teens between 15 and 16 years-old were severely injured after their car lost control and overturned during a hill hopping incident described as “horrific.” None of the occupants were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, and two of the occupants were ejected from the car.

Like the incident outside of Carthage, the crash occurred at a spot frequented by local teens looking to have fun. In fact, a 16 year-old was killed in a hill hopping attempt seven years prior at the same Ohio location. The victim died after crashing into a tree, the same tree the latest victims grazed as they lost control of their vehicle, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Unfortunately, this is not trend likely to go away anytime soon and it has been going on for a long time. I recently discussed this accident with a 40-year-old attorney who said that when he was a teenager back in the 1980s, he could recall hill hopping on several occasions with his friends.

Click here to read the story as reported by The Daily Gate City.


This blog was co-authored by Shane Nichols, a second year law student at John Marshall in Chicago.