Crash victim remembered for her kindness - Republic-Times | News

Crash victim remembered for her kindness

By on March 7, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Pictured are Bryan and Emily Webb of Columbia with their six children: Samuel, Isaac, Olivia, Audrey, Josiah and Levi. (submitted photo)

The community is remembering a Columbia mother of six who died in a crash last Tuesday as someone who was generous and sweet.

Emily Webb, 41, was killed and her six young children were injured after their Chevrolet Suburban collided with a dump truck on Route 3 (Admiral Parkway) at Veterans Parkway in Columbia. 

Emily’s mother-in-law and father-in-law, Lindell and Pat Webb, gave an update through a Monroe Actor’s Stage Company email Friday on the children’s condition. 

“Thank you for all your concern personally and through MASC,” the update reads. “We have received so many wonderful messages … Samuel, 13, and Isaac, 11, are being released now. 

“Samuel (has a) broken arm and a spleen injury which will need to be watched and handled with care. Isaac had a fractured pelvis they said will heal … Audrey, 7, and Josiah, 5, have scratches.”

Additionally, Emily’s husband, Bryan, said the remaining two children, Olivia, 9, and Levi, 5, are still in the hospital but have been removed from their heavy sedation medicine and placed on a lighter sedative to allow them to breathe on their own. 

Olivia’s breathing tube should be out soon. As for Levi, Bryan said he is beginning to make a lot of movement.

“Olivia looks absolutely beautiful as more and more of her tubes and clamps and thingamabobs get removed,” he said. “She looks like the sweet little girl I kissed (last) Tuesday morning before leaving for work. 

“We are so looking forward to seeing her open her eyes and recognize who we are … Levi is so precious as his little-bitty body lays in that huge hospital bed. Because of God’s grace alone, we are all doing extremely well.”

A prayer vigil for the family took place last Tuesday night at Hope Christian Church, which the family had attended in the past. 

The 2000 Sterling dump truck, which was hauling grain, was driven by 86-year-old Donald L. Eccher of Millstadt. He was transported to an area hospital for treatment of a minor rib injury sustained in the crash. 

Witnesses said the dump truck was traveling north on Route 3 and the Suburban was driving west through the intersection from Veterans Parkway when the crash occurred.

Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jim Broshears said Red Bud volunteer fireman Curt Guebert was driving south on Route 3 and witnessed the crash. Guebert jumped out of his vehicle and rushed over to the Suburban, using a knife to cut the seat belts and remove the children prior to EMS and firefighter arrival.

“Having someone with that experience get on scene first, it helped the process go better,” Broshears said. “Curt did a great job.”

Emily homeschooled her six children. Bryan, who is a deacon at Heritage of Grace Church in Columbia, said Emily “loved her Lord Jesus Christ above all things, and loved and cared for her family with the greatest of care and devotion.” 

Additionally, Bryan asks for prayers for Eccher. Heritage of Grace Church member Angela Wittman remembers Emily as having a warm personality.

“She was one of the sweetest women I’ve ever known with a gift for making others feel comfortable and welcome at church,” she said.

According to Heritage of Grace Church Deacon Ryan Hunsaker, the Webbs helped plant the church in the community four years ago. 

At the time, her sister, Rachael, and Rachael’s husband, Geoff, returned from a trip to Peru saying they wanted to start a new church. Hunsaker had known Emily for several years before that.

“I’ve never met a more genuine and sweet soul. I mean, she just — the light of Christ shined on her to her friends, family, people in the church,” he said. “There’s no doubt she heard the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ because she was that.”

Jenny van Breusegen, the wife of Bryan’s half-brother, Thane, told the Republic-Times she had known Emily since she was 15.

“She was just a sweet person. Just very quiet and reserved,” she said. “She just loved to listen. And she was fun. She laughed and giggled a lot.”

van Breusegen added that Emily and Bryan had been together since they were teenagers. During the time the Webbs raised their children together, van Breusegen said Emily was unique in the way she disciplined them.

“I don’t think all these years she ever raised her voice on her kids. She just had a way of communicating with them,” she expressed. “She loved on them.”

Emily is described in her obituary as “an amazing Christian woman.” It also states she had a passion for music and dancing as a founding member of the Thunder & Lightning Cloggers. 

Clogging, a type of folk dance similar to tap-dancing, is an activity van Breusegen said Emily had continued to do with her husband through the years. The obituary also lists her ability to encourage others as one of her greatest attributes. For the full obituary, turn to page 3A.

Emily’s cousin, Michelle Bumb Miller, set up a GoFundMe page for the Webb family which has already received more than $90,000 in donations. Go to to make a donation.

“The response has been phenomenal … The outpouring of support for the family has truly been a blessing,” Miller told the Republic-Times. “To see donations from people who didn’t even know her … It’s been really encouraging and great for the family.”

Miller reflected that her cousin knew how to build people’s self-esteem.

“Emily was a very encouraging person. She always brought out the best in people,” she said.

House of Neighborly Service is also accepting tax deductible donations on behalf of the Webb family. To donate online, go to

The Facebook group “Citizens Demanding Change on Illinois Route 3, Columbia, Illinois” has gained popularity in the wake of the crash. Group members are calling for reduced speed limits and delayed stoplights at all intersections along Route 3 in Columbia.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.