For many people in Illinois, the new year is a chance for a fresh start, a new beginning, or a change in attitude or behavior. That’s why the transition from one year to the next is so celebrated throughout the state. Unfortunately, one young person didn’t have the opportunity to share in the joy that accompanied the changeover to 2014.
That’s because the teen lost her life in a fatal pickup truck accident in Peoria County on the final Sunday of 2013. Around 10am on the morning of December 29, a 51-year old man was driving a pickup on westbound Interstate 74 on the western edge of Peoria. Near the interchange with Interstate 474, the man lost control of the truck on the icy roadway and skidded into a car that contained a Princeville couple. Both vehicles slammed into a guardrail, and three of the four passengers in the pickup were ejected onto the roadway. The 69-year old man and the 64-year old woman in the car were hurt, as were a 22-year old man, a 22-year old woman, and a 15-year old boy in the truck. But a 16-year old girl who was thrown from the truck was pronounced dead at the scene.
It’s a near certainty that the 51-year old man will be held primarily or solely responsible for the deadly crash, despite the fact that the icy roads may have been a factor in the accident. That means that he is liable for the injuries to the other victims and the death of the teen. Unless the teen was related to the driver, her surviving relatives (probably her parents) could choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the pickup truck driver. The couple in the car and any unrelated victims in the pickup could also file personal injury lawsuits against the 51-year old man as well.