CHARLESTON -- A look at possible safety improvements to a rural intersection might be justified following a fatal accident there Tuesday, according to Coles County Sheriff's Office officials.
There are stop signs on Loxa Road at the Illinois Route 316 intersection and the other driver involved in the accident didn't stop as required, resulting in a female driver's death, noted Lt. Tyler Heleine, patrol supervisor with the sheriff's office.
However, on Thursday, Heleine said Sheriff Jimmy Rankin has contacted the Illinois Department of Transportation about a possible traffic study at the location.
It would be up to IDOT to determine if the intersection meets requirements for any additional traffic control. Heleine said he's also considering what else might be done.
"If there's anything we can do as law enforcement to make that road safer, we want to do that," he said.
April L. Fisher, 38, a rural Mattoon resident, died after her vehicle was hit on the driver's side in the accident that took place about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection about a mile north of Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.
The other driver, James W. Miller, 56, of Terre Haute, Ind., was southbound on Loxa Road when he entered the intersection without stopping and hit Fisher's eastbound vehicle, according to the sheriff's office.
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The sheriff's office indicated that the investigation showed that Miller was driving under the influence of alcohol and using a cellphone at the time.
He was issued traffic citations for DUI, improper use of an electronic communication device, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and disobeying a stop sign, according to the sheriff's office.
A decision on whether to file additional charges against Miller in connection with the accident is pending, county State's Attorney Brian Bower said Thursday.
Bower noted the accident is still under investigation and said his office will need police reports before making a decision on any more charges.
DUI accidents that involve fatalities can result in felony charges against the person who drove while under the influence.
Miller was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, after the accident and was still there on Thursday listed in good condition, according to a Carle representative.
Heleine said sheriff's office officials have discussed accidents at the intersection before.
"We have had some very serious accidents there," he said, though he added that statistics about the intersection weren't readily available.
Traffic in the area of the intersection has likely increased over the last few years because Loxa Road is now part of the access route to the Interstate 57 interchange north of Mattoon, county Engineer Rick Johnson said Thursday.
Johnson said IDOT did a study of the intersection at his request about eight years ago, when improvements were done to Loxa Road for use as a truck route.
The state department concluded that no changes were warranted at that time, however, he said, adding that he's not sure if the situation might be different now.
In some instances, accidents at rural intersections can happen because a driver is unfamiliar with the area, Heleine said. If there's enough traffic volume or accident frequency, additional signs or flashing lights could be installed, he said.
Heleine added that law enforcement are always looking for ways to combat distracted driving and other traffic problems. Additional police presence in certain locations is one possibility, he said.