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Victims, stopped for deer, killed on Illinois interstate

A fatal truck accident near Mulberry Grove, Illinois, killed a woman and her elementary school-age daughters. An 18-wheeler smashed into the back of the woman's car when she stopped her Toyota Camry to allow deer to cross Interstate 70.

State transportation department officials say 75 percent of all auto-deer accidents happen in rural areas like Mulberry Grove. The small Bond County community was close to where the victims lived, minutes from the crash site.

More than two-thirds of all deer crashes in the state happen at night. The fatal tractor-trailer crash occurred not long after dark, around 9 p.m. Neighboring Madison County recorded 475 deer accidents in 2010, the second highest number of crashes in the state.

A witness who was driving next to the victims' car said the 41-year-old woman first slowed her vehicle to allow a deer to cross the highway. The Camry apparently stopped when a second deer appeared.

Over 17,000 vehicle-deer accidents on state roads killed 10 people and caused more than 630 injuries in 2010. Perhaps the mother of two thought that other drivers would be as cautious of the movements of the unpredictable animals as she was.

The Illinois woman, an employee at Hawthorn Children's Psychiatric Hospital, and her 6- and 8-year-old girls died upon impact. The truck driver, a 40-year-old Union man, was treated for minor injuries.

Reports indicate the trucker was unable to stop to avoid hitting the stopped Toyota. Police did not state whether the trucker noticed the car in time to apply his brakes at all. Troopers will determine whether criminal charges are warranted in the fatal accident.

The immediate family members of the victims are grieving the loss of three loved ones. The emotional pain and financial burden associated with the deaths may be devastating. A civil lawsuit could provide compensation, offering some relief for the survivors.

Source: stltoday.com, "Mother, daughters killed in Illinois interstate crash after stopping for deer," Terry Hillig, July 28, 2012

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