Halloween 2008 was not a day for "trick or treat," but rather a tragic day for the Carroll family from East Dubuque, Illinois. As they were waiting to turn into a pumpkin patch near Huntley, the family's pickup truck was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer traveling 60 miles per hour.
The impact of the collision pushed the truck and its three passengers, Tabitha, Randy and their three-year-old son Gabriel, into the back of an Illinois Department of Transportation dump truck. Tabitha was pronounced dead on the scene; Randy and Gabriel were airlifted to the hospital.
Police later determined the driver of the tractor-trailer, Jeffrey Repec, was under the influence of marijuana when the crash occurred.
A month after the accident, Randy was still hospitalized with a broken spine, facial fractures and respiratory problems. With two broken legs, head injuries and a permanent scar across his forehead, Gabriel was unable to walk in the weeks following the accident. Both have since recovered from their accident injuries.
Compensation for Physical Injuries, Loss of Life, Pain and Suffering
The verdict was handed down on October 29, 2010 - almost two years later to the day of the tragic truck collision. The $6.5 million settlement includes $4.7 million for the loss of wife and mother Tabitha, $1.5 million for Randy's injuries and $300,000 for Gabriel's injuries.
"Although justice was done here, it's not going to bring Tabitha back," the family's attorney said. "They will live with this grief and sorrow for the rest of their lives."
The settlement award came from a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2009, alleging that Repec operated a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, exceeded the speed limit and failed to keep a proper lookout. Having pled guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs, Repec is currently serving a 45-month prison sentence.
According to the lawsuit, the semi was unsafe for travel. It was overloaded, the left rear turn signal wasn't working, half of the brakes were out of adjustment and some of the brake pads were contaminated by oil, making it difficult to brake safely. The owners of the tractor-trailer, Geils Farms, were also found in violation of several laws, including failure to properly screen its drivers by conducting background checks or review of driving records.
Sources: Huntley crash victims are awarded $6.5 million; Family in crash awarded $6.5M