Tanya Shannon’s Body Found In LaSalle County During Search

UPDATED 01/03/11 5:27 p.m.

RANSOM, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) — She vanished nearly a month ago following a car crash that killed her husband. But on Monday, Tanya Shannon’s body was found, in a field not far from the crash site.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on why it took so long to find the mother of four.

Tanya was found shortly after 9 a.m. this morning by Chopper 2, which was covering the story.

CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl and pilot Jeff Fair were following a search for Tanya, panning out their view from a lone telephone pole near the crash site. In their third turn surveying the cornfields around 9:15 a.m., the crew located the body in the middle of the field and notified authorities.

Police immediately confirmed that the mother of four was wearing the same clothes as the night she disappeared.

“She was still wearing the grey hoodie, the red dress, the purse that we knew she had,” said LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton.

Tanya Shannon’s husband, Dale Shannon, died after their car hit a light pole while the couple was heading home from a holiday party on Dec. 5.

Autopsy results showed that Dale Shannon was drunk. His blood alcohol level was .266, more than three times the legal limit of .08, officials said.

Deputies found footprints in the snow leading away from the car, and searchers braved the cold for days in hopes of finding the woman.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

Police helicopters had flown over the area searching for Tanya, but authorities say her body was probably covered by the snow.

Today, they admitted that rescuers on foot never searched the field, because they assumed if she’d left the car she’d be looking for shelter.

“Any culvert, any ditch, anything at all that would provide any type of wind break is what people tend to look for,” said Templeton. “That’s where we were concentrating our searches. The middle of an open field, that was not something we thought was a plausible thing to do.”

The couple was raising their daughters in a home in Ransom. It’s a couple of blocks from Jerry’s Bar, where neighbors in the small town came together to collect money for the girls and pray for Tanya’s safe return.

“I talked to some of the teachers at the school, and the kids were still hoping and anticipating that their mom is going to come home. Now, we got the finalization but it’s not what we were hoping for,” said Jerry Yedinak, owner of Jerry’s Bar.

All the while, Templeton says, the department was hurting for the couple’s children.

“Thank goodness that we’ve been able to bring some closure to this,” Templeton said. “The only thing anybody talked about around the office since this happened, all through the holidays, was those four kids; those four little girls. That was going to dampen the effect on the holidays for everyone.”

“It’s very devastating. She lived next door to me. They both did, for like five or six years,” said neighbor Pam Ermel. “They got four adorable little girls, and they can probably use a lot of help.”

It’s estimated that the people in Ransom and surrounding communities have raised more than $2,000 for the couple’s daughters. And they’re still accepting donations.

Officials have also revealed that Tanya Shannon filed for divorce from her husband earlier in the year. According to published reports, Tanya and Dale Shannon had reconciled their differences more recently.

The family declined to talk to the media, but they issued a statement thanking the searchers and the community for all its support.

Authorities will have the results of an autopsy next week.

Authorities believe if Tanya Shannon had walked toward a nearby nuclear plant rather than into the field, she would have had a better chance of surviving. It is not known what her condition was right after the accident, or whether she became disoriented.

“Who knows? Only God knows,” local resident Will Mertes told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman. Mertes was at a tavern Monday night, where a collection was set up for Shannon’s four orphaned children.

  • Sad Very Sad

    Ok Ok, I will say I thought something fishy in this story, like the lady bolted from kids and marriage…… I was way off….. shows how conditioned one can be these days …………

  • Aquantined friend

    Tanya you will be missed…RIP

  • friend

    praise god! so very sad, god bless those children!

  • Mom of #

    why was the fact that she filed for divorce even worth mentioning?? The poor woman is DEAD and her children are now orphans. Good Lord what is wrong with you people?

    • mother

      I agree what did it matter, God Bless the children, and the family who now will raise them

      • KE

        It matters because it puts to rest the rumors that the couple had split and that the husband had intentially tried to kill him and his estranged wife.
        It is better that the children know that it was a complete ACCIDENT.
        Not a murder-suicide that had initially gone wrong.

  • FR

    Thank goodness for chopper 2. Too bad you didn’t look right after the accident. If more cities would buy American made helicopters, we would be safer and better employed.

  • JeanSC

    Congrats to Chopper 2 on the assist in the search. Coupla comments. 1: Seems more people need to get the concept of using a smaller grid unit when trying to do an intensive search of an area. For example, when botanists survey an area, they might use a grid size of 1 square meter. This would have found an adult human. 2: It’s possible Shannon might have walked in the wrong direction from the nuclear power plant and possible survival, because she was walking with her back to the wind. People who aren’t properly dressed for bad weather tend to not walk into the wind, unless they think it’s a better choice. What direction was the wind blowing there when the accident happened?

  • Sad One

    This is a very sad conclusion to this tragedy. God be with their children and family.

  • Sym Clough

    This is so sad, I was so hoping that she would be alive when I first heard this story. R.I.P Tanya Shannon.

  • KE

    So sad.
    A Christmas party that ends with 4 orphaned children
    God please bless these children.

  • railroad

    Very sad and not unexpected… and it’s nice they got to spend one last happy evening together. But it’s too bad he had to go and DRIVE DRUNK… and she went with him (drunk or not). You would think grown mature adults would know better….!! There is no excuse.. and now their kids have lost their parents. It’s a miracle and a relief they didn’t kill any innocent people along with them. It could have ended much, much worse….

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  • M

    I’m wondering if anyone has started up a fund at a bank for the orphaned children besides the jar that was at the bar?

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    WHO ever said this was a possible murder/suicide gone wrong?!!!! Keep in mind that these comments may well be read by distraught family members and friends (like me). Tanya was a terrific person and this whole thing is devasting to anyone who knew her. Those comments should not be “out there”.
    God Bless the Shannons – ALL OF THEM.

  • Houstonian

    I’ve been following this story from the very beginning and was really hoping that it was amnesia or something. This is truly heartbreaking, my prayers are with their children, it’s truly a tragedy.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/01/06/autopsy-no-trauma-on-tanya-shannons-body/ Autopsy: No Trauma On Tanya Shannon’s Body « CBS Chicago – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] Shannon walked away from the crash site, but her body was not found until just this past Monday. Authorities had stopped the search for a while because of poor weather […]

  • kathy

    rest in peace tanya and dale and god please bless the children. is there an address to send l donations. I read that only two thousand dollars has been raised for the girls….their aunt and uncle will need much more then that. to bad oprah can’t help….

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