Illinois wrestler Francis Edelen was killed in a hit-and-run accident on an interstate Wednesday night, according to The News-Gazette.
Edelen, 21, was on foot and struck by a driver on Interstate 57 about 20 miles north of Champaign, Ill. Edelen had been involved in a separate, two-car accident on the highway and was likely on foot looking for help or a ride, according to Illinois State Police Trooper Tracy Lillard.
Lillard told the News-Gazette that Edelen was struck and killed by an unknown vehicle close to the location of the first accident. The vehicle which struck Edelen left the scene.
Illinois wrestler Francis Edelen killed in hit-and-run
— Illini Wrestling (@IlliniWrestling) March 22, 2018
“This is shocking news for our team and coaching staff as no words can truly reflect the emotions that we are going through at this time,” Illinois wrestling coach Jim Heffernan said in a statement. “Francis was a productive member of our program. We are extremely saddened by this news. We just released this news to our team, so the healing process after the loss of a teammate and friend has just begun.”
Added Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman: “Losing someone so early in his life when he has so much yet to experience and to give is a tragedy of the highest order. Our thoughts are with Francis’ family and friends. We will come together and draw strength from each other as an Illini family during this difficult time.”
Edelen, a native of Oak Forest, Ill., was a redshirt sophomore for the Illini in the 2017-18 season.