A tragic crash in Montgomery County has a local sting to it this morning. According to reports, Illinois State Police District 18 troopers responded to investigate a fatal crash on Illinois Route 185 near Coffeen Saturday evening. At approximately 6:21PM, a 2010 Toyota Sienna driven by 72 year old Jackolyn Protz of Sullivan was traveling eastbound and a 2016 Ford 150 driven by a 17 year old male from Harvel was traveling westbound. The Ford truck crossed the center line of the highway and struck the Toyota head on.
All four members of the Toyota Sienna were pronounced deceased at the scene including Protz, her husband 73 year old William Protz also of Sullivan, and 14 year old Jenna Protz and her friend 14 year old Holly Lidy, both of Vandalia. There was a vigil for the students, both freshmen, at Vandalia high school yesterday. The four were returning home from Williamsville, where they attended Saturday’s Class 3A quarterfinal football game, according to a report from the State Journal Register. William and Jackolyn Protz were the parents of Vandalia High School principal Randy Protz, who played football at MacMurray College in Jacksonville. Jenna Protz was Randy Protz’s daughter. Jenna Protz was also the daughter of Brenda Baptist-Protz of Springfield and formerly of Jacksonville, a professor of communications at Lincoln Land Community College. Jenna’s stepmother, Janel Protz, is also a native of Jacksonville and 1989 graduate of JHS. Protz was also the niece of current Jacksonville Police Lieutenant Brian Baptist. Mayor Andy Ezard sent his condolences to the Protz and Baptist family on Twitter Saturday evening. Holly Lidy’s mother, Anita Lidy, is a Vandalia Elementary School speech teacher.
The driver of the Ford truck sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital by ARCH helicopter from the scene. The Illinois State Police Crash Traffic Unit is continuing the investigation into the cause of the accident.