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Franklin County family loses father in suspected DUI crash

Franklin County investigators want to know why a car driven by a West Frankfort driver crossed over the middle line of Rend Lake Dam Road. Illinois State Police and county sheriff's deputies suspect, but have not confirmed, that drunk driving played a role in a fatal car accident.

Accident chances increase substantially when a driver is negligent due to intoxication. Drivers also do not realize how little time it takes for a heavy, moving vehicle to veer out of control. The distraction of a ringing cell phone or an audio or GPS system can sidetrack a driver long enough to create a series of irreversible events like car damage, injuries and death.

Police report that two vehicles were headed toward one another in opposite directions on Rend Lake Dam Road on a Sunday evening. An eastbound car, driven by a 31-year-old woman, moved into the westbound lane, colliding head-on with a Dodge Grand Caravan carrying a family of six.

The driver of the vehicle, who strayed across the centerline, was traveling alone. She was flown by helicopter to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis with unidentified injuries.

The Caravan driver, a 41-year-old father of four, was transported by ambulance to Benton's Franklin Hospital. The Bonnie man was pronounced dead from accident injuries, about an hour after the crash.

All of the passengers in the Dodge van were injured. A 10-year-old boy, the driver's son, was flown to Children's Hospital in St. Louis. Rescue crews did not indicate whether the child's medical condition was serious.

The 38-year-old wife of the Caravan driver suffered a broken clavicle and foot. The widow was treated and released from Franklin Hospital the night of the accident. The Bonnie woman's three remaining children, 6- and 12-year-old daughters and 16-year-old son, were treated for minor injuries at the same hospital.

As the investigation continues, a family will attempt to make sense of its losses. One child remains hospitalized and in need of his injured mother's care. Three other children are recovering from injuries and trying to understand how to move forward after their father's death.

Courts cannot bring back lost loved ones, but our laws are there to help accident victims pursue criminal and civil justice against those responsible for their loss.

Source: bentoneveningnews.com, "1 dies, other injured in crash on Dam Road," June 11, 2012

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