MARENGO – A 31-year-old Marengo man was killed in a car crash Friday morning in Rochelle.
Benjamin R. Koelper was driving south on Route 251 when his car left the roadway for unknown reasons and struck a tree, Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Michael Kuehl said.
The crash occurred about 2 a.m. near the intersection of Twombly Road. When Rochelle and Illinois State Police arrived, the car was engulfed in flames, Kuehl said.
Illinois State Police are investigating the cause of the crash.
Koelper is survived by his parents and brother, Josh – who is a member of the Huntley Fire Protection District – and Josh’s wife, Anna.
After graduating from Riley School District 18 and Marengo Community High School, Koelper went on to work for a variety of places.
He enjoyed being a counselor and camper at Wal Camp, working with kids at Little Blessings Preschool at St. John’s and working for Tri-Star Metals and Marengo Signs, according to his obituary.
He worked in the kitchen at The Rack in Rochelle and most recently was an employee at Heels and Hardhats in Byron, delivering safety equipment to NPL Construction Co.
“Ben enjoyed his job, using his personality and laid-back attitude to make sure the NPL crews were properly equipped,” his obituary says. “He always was quick to lend a hand to his dad in the shop or on a jobsite with Koelper Golf Course Construction.”
In 2013, Koelper was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a disease he “passionately fought” and was actively winning, according to his obituary.
Koelper also was an avid Blackhawks fan, and he attended countless games with his parents and friends, sitting in section 330, row 4, seats 5 and 6.
“Ben would rarely not be talking or arguing sports or his dislike for current politics,” the obit reads. “Ben also loved the Fighting Illini and tailgating at Memorial Stadium. This was a tradition passed down from his central Illinois roots.”
The visitation will be from 2 p.m. until the 5 p.m. funeral service Thursday at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 6821 Main St., Union.
Memorials in Koelper’s name can be made to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“Ben’s infectious smile and passion for people, relationships and the things he loved were his foundation,” Koepler’s obituary says. “From his early days on, Ben’s life, enjoyments and social media postings were all overwhelmingly filled with passion. His family, being an uncle, his home, his car, the search for the perfect tacos and barbecue and music all were special to our Ben.”