Independent investigators looking into McDonough County Sheriff’s Deputy involved fatal crash

Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - Independent investigators are now looking into the fatal crash on Jan. 27 involving McDonough County Sheriff’s Deputy Evan Schmalshof.

Illinois State Police responded to the scene of the crash near North 950th Road at 9:55 p.m.

According to a crash report filed by ISP, Schmalshof’s vehicle made contact at a high rate of speed with a vehicle driven by James Mellenthin of Cottage Hills, Illinois.

Upon impact, Mellenthin’s vehicle left the road and rolled over several times. Mellenthin was ejected from his vehicle and pronounced dead upon examination by Lifeguard Ambulance emergency responders.

McDonough County State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala said it’s now a matter of him and independent prosecutors examining ISP crash reconstruction reports and determining if any criminal activity took place.

”We want to have a just result, but we also want to not rush judgement and take our time to make sure that justice is provided both for Mr. Mellenthin and his family and everyone else involved,” Kwacala said.

Kwacala said he chose to ask independent investigators to look into the investigation because, as the state’s attorney, he also represents the sheriff’s office.

“Deputy Schmalshof is still a witness in some pending cases that we have,” Kwacala added. “I thought it was very important to have an outside agency look at the investigation, the facts of everything that’s involved, just as the sheriff brought in the state police the night of the accident so he wasn’t investigating himself.”

The report shows one other person was in Schmalshof’s vehicle.

Kwacala confirmed that person was not in custody, but couldn’t comment any further.

Sheriff Nick Petitgout said Schmalshof is still on paid administrative leave.


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