A groomsman died in an awful highway accident after the car that had been carrying him and the newlywed couple to their reception was struck by a truck.
The tragic crash occurred in Monroe County, Illinois on Saturday, and claimed the life of Chance Karnes. The 20-year-old man, who died at the scene, was in the wedding party for Ryne and Allie Fithian, who were married just hours before, and also injured in the accident.
According to KSDK, Karnes was thrown from his seat in a Ford Bronco after the car was struck by a Chevy pickup truck being driven by a 57-year-old woman identified as Rhonda Schaefer. Both Ryne and Allie Fithian had been sitting with Karnes in the car, along with Chance’s girlfriend. They are all expected to survive following the crash, although Allie was airlifted to a local hospital and is reportedly in critical condition. Schaefer only sustained “minor injuries” and was transported to the hospital, according to news reports from the scene.
Sadly, Chance — pictured (above) with his parents prior to his high school graduation — perished in the awful accident. Police haven’t given too many specifics about what caused the wreck, but according to the local news outlet, it is still under investigation. Obviously, the timing of the crash as it occurred between wedding ceremony and reception makes this situation all the more heartbreaking.
Per WSIL, Karnes turned 20 years old just one day before the accident. He’d been a popular and well-liked high school student, and was the star quarterback of the Herrin High School football team before graduating from the school in 2020. According to his mom, Brandi, her son’s passion after high school had been horses — and he competed in ranch sorting events and equestrian shows throughout his all-too-short life.
Chance’s dad, Jason, spoke to the news outlet about his late son, saying (below):
“[Chance was] a handsome young man with beautiful blue eyes. He was an old soul. Chance went to shows all over the Midwest and Oklahoma, Texas. He enjoyed that closed cowboy family that he was in.”
Others in the area that knew the young man remain shocked by his sudden and tragic loss, too.
One of his former high school teachers, identified by WSIL as Kevin Dunaway, told the news outlet:
“He’s going to be greatly missed. This is just one of those terrible, terrible accidents, that you question. But you just can’t replace those individuals. He had leadership, stepped up to those responsibilities. The way he conducted himself. On the athletic field, in the classroom, in the shop. He’s just one of those people you can’t help but like.”
The equestrian world is reeling from Karnes’ loss, too. On Facebook over the weekend, the Ranch Sorting National Championships released their own statement lamenting Chance’s death, as well:
“A tragic loss of a great cowboy. The Ranch Sorting community is blessed to have gotten to know Chance. He and his contagious smile will be greatly missed. Rest easy cowboy.”
Supporters have started a GoFundMe page to raise money following Allie’s serious injuries in the car crash, as well. Writing about the new bride’s health after the awful event, the fundraiser shared:
“Allie was air-lifted to SLU where she was stabilized but still in critical condition. She’s currently in the Intensive Care Unit battling her injuries. Her husband Ryne has been the most supportive & concerned new husband, staying at the hospital with her as she makes her recovery.”
You can visit that page HERE.
Here is more on Chance Karnes’ life, and the aftermath of his passing, from WSIL (below):
Our hearts break for everyone impacted by this awful, awful situation.