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Illinois accident claims life of Sanger trucker

Profile image for By Kathleen A. Schultz /
By Kathleen A. Schultz /

ROCHELLE, Ill. — A Sanger truck driver died in a fiery crash involving three semi-tractor-trailers Friday night on Interstate 39 in Ogle County, Illinois State Police said.

Ralph W. Maness, 60, of Sanger, died at about 8 p.m. Friday after his truck rear-ended another semi driven by William M. Spearman, 41, of Chicago.

Maness’ truck burst into flames and he died at the scene, according to State Police Sgt. Eric Van Dyke and to a news release. Services are pending at DeBerry Funeral Home in Denton.

Spearman’s truck was going slower than the minimum speed limit of 45 mph, and he was cited for violating the minimum speed limit, which is a $120 ticket. Both trucks were going northbound on I-39.

A third semi, driven by Craig L. Zimbauer, 36, of Elk Mound, Wis., and also northbound, swerved into a ditch to avoid the accident, but stopped so close that his semi also caught fire.

Neither Spearman nor Zimbauer were injured.

Further investigation into the accident is ongoing and could take several weeks, Van Dyke said.

Northbound traffic was diverted from I-39 to state Route 251 until 9 a.m. Saturday while the on-scene investigation was conducted.

Van Dyke said he didn’t know how fast the first two trucks were going, or what they were hauling.