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Wrongful death suit aimed at Illinois and drugged driver

A lawsuit stemming from a bizarre, fatal car crash blames the state of Illinois for negligence. The driver and owner of a vehicle that smashed into two state-owned vehicles have also been named in the wrongful death suit.

Court documents detail the death of a 27-year-old Morris man, who performed community service work for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The worker and two colleagues were sitting in the bucket of a work tractor parked in a Stratton Park lot when a car struck the tractor's side.

The jolt caused by the accident caused the three workers to fall out of the tractor bucket. One of the men fell near an Illinois-owned work truck. The car careened off the tractor and into the pickup truck, causing the vehicle to strike and kill the fallen community service worker.

Police reports say the 20-year-old driver was high on methamphetamines and marijuana when his car careened into the state vehicles in the parking lot. The lawsuit claims the crash in the spring of 2011 was "intentional."

The four-count lawsuit against the car driver, car owner, the Department of Natural Resources and the state was brought by the administrator of the accident victim's estate. The estate administrator is also the guardian of the crash victim's son.

The wrongful death suit seeks a minimum of $50,000 for each count of alleged negligence. The state and its agency are charged with the failure to protect the community service worker from harm.

Court papers state it was IDIR's responsibility to warn the workers not to sit in the tractor bucket. The filing also accuses the state of lax safety practices for not marking off the parking lot work space with ropes.

Source: Morris Daily Herald, "Freak fatal accident leads to lawsuit," Jan. 4, 2011

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