An on-duty 28-year-old male Illinois state trooper died earlier this year when a truck on the Tri-State Tollway close to Glenview rammed into his patrol car. The fatal truck accident occurred after the truck driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle, which was attached to a trailer weighing 9,000 pounds and was filled with household goods bound for another state.
When the sleeping 26-year-old male trucker awoke, his truck had burst into flames and the impact of its collision with the police vehicle had thrown the patrol car a full 540 feet down the center median of the highway. The state trooper suffered injuries that caused his death on the spot. The trucker had worked a 12-hour shift but still drove on before dozing off. At the time of the crash, he reportedly had been driving for 14 hours. Both he and his employer were later fined as a result.
The trucker is facing three felony criminal charges for disobeying federal safety rules intended to prevent these types of accidents, collisions, deaths and injuries that seem almost inevitable when a driver of a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds is asleep while rushing down a highway.
The trucker was subsequently released after posting a required 10 percent cash payment on a $125,000 bond set by the court. If convicted on all charges, he could be incarcerated from one to three years on each of the three counts. Tests conducted on the trucker for drugs returned negative results but abuse of alcohol or drugs is frequently involved in truck accidents, as is speeding or distracted driving caused by truckers engaged in texting or making cellphone calls.
Criminal charges, while appropriate when reckless driving injures or kills someone, will not bring back the state trooper to his surviving family, nor even offer compensation for funeral expenses, pain and suffering or lost income. For that, accident victims or their families need to retain experienced lawyers to file lawsuits for personal injury or wrongful death. In truck accidents, both the trucker and his or her employer can often be sued.
Chicago Sun-Times, "Trucker charged in crash that killed state trooper on Tri-State" Brian Slodysko and Jon Seidel, Nov. 13, 2013