WOODSTOCK – The family of a Woodstock man who died this week after being struck by a train is asking for help to lay him to rest.
Theodis R. Williams, a Woodstock man with a troubled past who family members say was working to get back on course, died at about 6:45 p.m. Monday at the railroad crossing near Short and Railroad streets. He would have been 35 years old next week.
Arrangements are in the works to bury Williams in Chicago, where he was born. But his family lacks the money or insurance to cover costs, which are estimated at about $8,500, said Angela Williams, Theodis’ widow.
Dante Perkins, of D.L. Perkins Sr. Memorial Chapel in Chicago, confirmed that Theodis Williams’ casket, burial, service, flowers, programs, pickup and preparation would total about $8,500.
“They do need some help,” Perkins said.
Finances for the burial haven’t been the only unanswered question in the days since the incident, as investigators have tried to put together exactly what happened.
According to the Metra operator at the helm of the eastbound train, Williams didn’t respond to the continuous sounding of the train’s horn.
The information from the Metra engineer, relayed by the Woodstock Police Department in a news release Friday, is the only eyewitness account police have received of the final moments of Williams’ life, Police Chief Robert Lowen said.
McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski issued a statement saying that preliminarily, the incident “is consistent with an accident,” but added that an investigation is ongoing.
Williams, 339 Short St., Unit 2, Woodstock, died near his house. The engineer told police he applied the emergency brake and sounded the horn continuously to try to get the victim to clear the tracks, according the release.
“According to the train engineer, he did not acknowledge the warnings that were signaled and continued, not in an expedited manner,” Lowen said. “He just continued to be oblivious to it.”
The railroad’s crossing gates and signals also were working correctly, police have said. CPR was initially performed on the victim until the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District arrived and pronounced him deceased, the release said.
While she awaits further word from authorities, Angela Williams has been searching for ways to fund her husband’s burial, she said. The family has opened a donations-only Chase bank account under the name of Theo’s sister, Shanae Williams. People can also donate directly through the funeral home.
Angela Williams remembered her husband of two years – who she’d known for about 10 years – as a loving and caring person. The two didn’t have children together, but each had their own from previous relationships.
“He did everything possible to help somebody in a situation before he made sure he was OK,” she said.
But she also acknowledged her husband had gone through his struggles.
Williams was twice convicted of felonies. In April 2009, he was convicted of a Class 2 felony drug charge, for which he was sentenced to 39 months in prison. The same year, he received conditional discharge on a Class 4 felony for obstructing justice.
At the time of his death, Williams was on a one-year conditional discharge stemming from a September domestic battery incident. The sentence required that Williams complete courses in parenting, driving under the influence, victim impact and anger counseling, according to public records.
“He wasn’t a perfect person, nobody is,” Angela Williams said. “He’s had his past, he’s done his things. He was changing himself and that was the process he was in.”
Shanae Williams, of Chicago, said she had been financially helping her brother – whom friends and family called “Mane Mane” – while he tried to find work.
“I miss him a lot,” she said. “I just wish I could just hold him again, get another hug.”
How to help Donations can be made at any Chase bank location. Deposits can be directed to Shanae Williams, account number 539020193. Checks must be made out to Shanae Williams. Donations can also be made through credit or debit card directly to D.L. Perkins Sr. Memorial Chapel by calling owner Dante Perkins at 773-759-3362. The chapel can email, fax or mail receipts back to individuals.