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Car accident victim's relatives sue sheriff's department

Police chases are known to be dangerous to the general public and should only be pursued with great caution. The reason: Innocent bystanders are often injured or even killed in these high-risk chases, which may not even result in the apprehension of a suspect. Now, one Illinois family is striking back against unnecessary car chases by filing a lawsuit against a Kane County officer and the sheriff's department, all because their 18-year-old son was killed in a chase-related car accident.

The incident occurred in early December 2012, when the teenaged driver pulled his vehicle over onto the shoulder of the road to avoid the car chase. Officers were pursuing a Wisconsin driver who had allegedly stolen a vehicle from Wheaton. That 30-year-old woman, who also died during the collision, caused a horrifying auto accident that not only killed the teen, but also injured his girlfriend and killed his dog. Witnesses report that the at-fault driver was reaching speeds of 100 mph shortly before the wreck.

Instead of doing their duty to protect the general public, officers in this case actually endangered other drivers by insisting on pursuing the alleged car thief, according to the lawsuit. Relatives of the victim are suing the deputy and his employer, alleging that he was a negligent driver who ultimately caused the death of an innocent, upstanding member of the community. The teen's parents are seeking unspecified damages in the case, though they are pursuing a jury trial in the matter.

Police officers have a duty to keep motorists safe on the road. Vehicle chases often have the opposite effect, endangering drivers who are not even involved in the dangerous chases. Officers and their supervisors should be held responsible for the financial ramifications of their actions, which can include civil suits for wrongful death and personal injury.

Source: www.dailyherald.com, "Lawsuit filed in police chase that killed 2 near Campton Hills" Harry Hitzeman, Dec. 03, 2013

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