Back when seat belts first became mandatory in all passenger vehicles – and again when drivers were required by law to wear them in every state (except New Hampshire) – many people complained about the belts. They (erroneously) claimed that they would be safer if they were thrown clear of an auto accident instead of being trapped by the seat belt inside the vehicle.
But this week, authorities found a woman who was struck and killed while lying on a freeway after she exited a moving vehicle which was not involved in a collision. But did she jump out of the vehicle, or was she pushed?
The incident happened early Tuesday morning around 1am on the Bishop Ford Expressway in Dolton. The 27-year old woman left the sport utility vehicle in which she was riding and landed in traffic near 154th Street, where she was fatally struck by a car and a tractor-trailer. The SUV continued down the expressway and didn’t stop despite being pursued by police until it crashed at an exit ramp near 127th Street.
The SUV driver, a 28-year old man from Edwardsville, has since been charged with aggravated driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and aggravated fleeing and eluding. The man also has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for domestic battery and arrests for assault. However, Illinois State Police are still uncertain whether he pushed the woman to her death or she jumped out of the moving vehicle on her own accord.
In either case, it’s highly unlikely that the drivers of the semi and the car which hit her will be held responsible for her death, because pedestrians on a freeway (not to mention people exiting moving vehicles) are generally considered to be an unforeseen circumstance. If the woman were pushed, then her surviving family members would certainly have solid grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against the Edwardsville man.