The cause of death for a 21-year-old Illinois accident victim could not be determined at a Logan County inquest. Officials know the Chicago woman was in a car stopped in the right lane of Interstate 55 — all lights off — when a tractor-trailer, traveling at highway speed, drove into and over the stationary vehicle.
Driver alcohol use and drugs had no part in the violent, fatal truck accident. The revelation created more questions than answers for investigators. The drivers of both vehicles died at the crash scene. Only the 67-year-old tractor trailer driver’s death was ruled an accident.
Illinois State Police received a complaint call before the crash about an unlit Elantra blocking part of the interstate. A trooper was responding to the report when a tractor trailer hit and crushed the car. The vehicles slammed into a median before the heavily-loaded truck pitched off a bridge and into a streambed.
Skid marks, evidence of braking, were not found on the highway. Investigators think the trucker was going as fast as 65 mph when tractor-trailer struck the unseen car in the dark. Truck tire marks were discovered on the Elantra’s front passenger seat.
Both drivers were thrown from their vehicles. The Elantra driver survived the crash for a short time, according to a coroner’s report.
Evidence of negligence may be difficult to establish. The question investigators want answered is why the car and its driver sat on the highway in dark silence. How will police determine whether mechanical failure was to blame? The car was crushed beyond recognition. No one survived.
Was the reason the jury hesitated to rule the woman’s death accidental because they suspected she was physically or mentally ill? Who can be held responsible for the death of the trucker, who apparently was unaware until too late that a road hazard existed?
The woman who died apparently stole the car she was driving. The victim’s mother reported the car missing several hours before the crash. The relative may provide clues about the car and the driver that investigators cannot gather from the wreckage.
Source: lincolncourier.com, “No drugs, alcohol involved in deadly crash,” Nathan Woodside, July 12, 2012