URBANA — The Champaign County coroner has confirmed the death of D Champaign State Senator Scott Bennett.
Duane Northrup said Senator Bennett died of an undisclosed medical condition at 1:15 p.m. Friday at Carl Foundation Hospital in Urbana. First responders were called to his Champaign home just before 3 a.m. Thursday.
A Champaign attorney, Senator Bennett, 45, represented the 52nd District, which covers most of Champaign and Vermilion counties, including Champaign-Urbana, Savoy, Rantoul, Danville, Tilton and Westville.
Local and state officials are taking the loss seriously.
“This is a hugely unexpected loss,” said State Senator Jason Barrickman, R-Bloomington. “I would like to express my deepest love and respect to his family, wife and young children.”
Barrickman said Senator Bennett was a friend to him, a friend to many in and out of politics, and the problems facing the East Central Illinois and Champaign Urbana communities, the University of Illinois, and the area’s hospitals. He was a go-to person to seek perspective on.
“The impact he has had over the last week has been unprecedented. Mr. Barrickman has always been the voice of reason from the Democratic side of the aisle at a time when politics desperately needed it.” said.
“I never said anything bad about him. He is the definition of a good man and the world would be a darker place without him,” Champaign County Attorney Julia Reetz said.
Mike Ingram, chairman of the Champaign County Democratic Party, called Senator Bennett “one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Born and raised in Gibson City, he graduated from Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School in 1995 and received a BA in History from Illinois State University in 1998. He graduated from the University of Illinois Law School in his 2002 and has worked as a prosecutor in McLean and later Champaign counties.
He had been working in the Urbana courts for almost three years when he was appointed in January 2015 to fill the term of then-state Senator Mike Frericks, who had been elected state treasurer the previous November. .
Senator Bennett was first elected in 2016 and was re-elected unopposed in 2020 and on November 8.
He served on several Senate committees, including Agriculture, Higher Education Budget, Judiciary, Labor, and Re-election. He also played a key role in recent negotiations to amend his controversial SAFE-T law. The SAFE-T Act, among other things, eliminates bail in criminal cases in Illinois.
Senator Bennett was most recently with Spiros Law Firm in Champaign. He and his wife Stacey have two children of his own.
This is a developing story.