A Minnesota family is enduring a devastating tragedy after an Illinois UTV crash left two sisters dead and three children seriously injured.
The collision happened around 4:51 p.m. Saturday in rural Tremont, Illinois, which is about 50 miles north of Springfield. At the intersection of Townline and Locust Roads, a UTV carrying Pequot Lakes sisters Ashley Embree, 22, and Sarae Embree, 16, collided with a pickup truck, according to the Tazewell County coroner's office.
Ashley and Sarae Embree both died at the scene, the coroner's office said.
"Let us all make beauty from these ashes and LOVE as our girls would want. ... We had an AMAZING journey with them and are far beyond blessed to have had so many times of laughter, debates, adventures and bear hugs," their mother Katie Embree wrote on Facebook. "God I don’t understand but I trust."
A Go Fund Me started for the sisters' family has so far raised more than $26,000.
Four other family members involved in the crash were seriously injured, with the youngest — a toddler — fighting for their life.
Jordan Embree (identified by the Pine Lake Echo Journal as cousin to Ashley and Sarae) and his three young children were hospitalized, according to a Caring Bridge page set up for them: Haddon (5), Knox (3) and RJ (2).
RJ was in critical condition, with multiple fractures and a traumatic brain injury, and continues to fight for his life. An update from late Wednesday morning indicates that while there have been some improvements, doctors haven't seen any sign of brain function to this point, and will soon conduct tests to look for activity.
Haddon and Knox both suffered a concussion and other physical injuries, but have since been released from the hospital. As has Jordan Embree, a volunteer firefighter and EMT in the community, who suffered internal bruising and a bone fracture.
There is a Go Fund Me set up for them as well.
Tazewell County authorities did not provide any information about the pickup driver, nor did they say anything about the circumstances leading up to the crash. Local authorities are investigating.
Tributes to sisters
Ashley, who was pursuing a degree in social work from Bethel University, is described as "full of joy, love and compassion," and someone who wanted to help people in the community.
"She was a wonderful friend. A fabulous sister. An incredible daughter. Ashley’s bubbly personality was truly a gift from Jesus and she delighted in lavishing hope and joy to all who came across her path," the obituary continues.
Sarae is remembered as "independent and adventurous" with a big smile and infectious personality, who hoped to eventually go to MIT.
"Sarae saw people in all their blessed humanness and loved every bit of them, no matter their oddities," the obituary says. "To be a friend of Sarae was to be blessed by one of God’s greatest lovers of people."
Visitation and a funeral service are set for next week in Nisswa.
"No parent should ever have to lay their children to rest," says the Go Fund Me for the sisters.