Man Killed in Rear-End Crash With School Bus

Residents say speeding along Route 113 in Kankakee is very common

A man was killed Thursday morning when his car rear-ended a school bus along a stretch of road in Kankakee County residents say is often used by drivers who disregard the speed limit.

Matthew Ballenger, 29, died in the crash, which happened just after 7 a.m. at Illinois Route 113 and Warner Bridge Road.

It's not known what led to the crash, but the bus was stopped to pick up Herscher High School student Grant Billings.

"As soon as it pulled up, the doors opened and I went to step up, and before I knew it I was thrown out of the bus, only one step up, onto the ground," Billings recalled. "I didn't hear any tires. I couldn't see the car coming at all."

Billings wasn't seriously injured but said in the afternoon that he had some head and neck pain.

"I'm still a little shocked but overall I'm alright," he said.

Ballenger's 2002 Chevy was wedged almost under the bus, which was carrying nine students. Five were taken to local hospitals and four were checked and released from the scene. None had life-threatening injuries.

Billings' mother, Jackie, and other neighbors say the stretch of Route 113 can be dangerous because drivers routinely ignore the posted speed limit.

"They don't pay attention. They just speed," said neighbor Nelda Ravens.

"We've always been concerned about something like this happening," added Jackie Billings. "I hope we can get some signs posted that say that, you know, school buses stop here, and maybe lower the speed limit."

The mother said she was heartbroken over the crash was "just so thankful" the children and the bus driver weren't seriously injured.

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