JEFFERSON COUNTY — A one-vehicle crash Wednesday night in Texico resulted in an organized search that included an airplane and a drone being brought out to locate the 50-year-old female driver who had left the scene of the crash.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard, around 9:52 p.m. Wednesday, Nicole L. Villani informed Onstar that she had swerved to miss a deer and struck a tree. He says the crash occurred on North Snapdragon Lane near East Middle Road in Texico.
When deputies arrived at the crash scene, Villani was not with the vehicle and a search for her began. Bullard says the Mt. Vernon Police Department was brought out to assist in the search with their drone that has a thermal imaging camera and the Illinois State Police also sent troopers and an airplane with thermal imaging to assist.
After four hours of unsuccessfully searching for Villani on the ground and from the air, a resident in the 12000 block of East Middle Road discovered a seriously injured Villani at her door.
Villani was then taken to SSM Good Samaritan Hospital before being transported to a St. Louis area hospital with serious injuries. Her condition at this time is unknown.
Villani is a local attorney who has served as Jefferson County State’s Attorney and as Jefferson County Resident Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit.
Bullard says he believes the thermal imaging cameras were unsuccessful in the search for Villani due to temperatures in the low 20s that would have dropped her body temperature too low to be detected.