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Illinois police said teen driver hid to avoid hit-and-run charges

A driver suspected of fleeing the scene of an auto accident eluded authorities in the southwestern part of the state for more than a week. The 9-year-old victim, struck while riding a bicycle and abandoned on a road near Cahokia, Illinois, died from injuries two days after the collision.

St. Clair County officials have charged three people - a 17-year-old teen, his 17-year-old male passenger and a 25-year-old woman - with crimes related to the fatal crash. Police said the Washington Park woman illegally rented the vehicle to the unlicensed, uninsured teen. Her bail was set at $30,000.

Authorities found the vehicle in St. Louis several days before locating the teen driver holed up in a Washington Park residence. Reports did not say whether the teen was in his own home or someone else's residence when police arrested him.

Among the teen's charges are speeding, obstruction of justice, failure to report a fatality and reckless homicide.

Reports say the passenger was charged with obstruction of justice for hiding the vehicle and persuading an accident witness not to come forward with information. Bail was $20,000 for the minor passenger. A judge ordered $100,000 bail for the teen driver charged with the hit-and-run homicide.

A wrongful death claim by the victim's family might name more than one defendant. The basis for a civil claim is negligence, whether the behavior is obvious or passive. The primary defendant most certainly would be the driver, but the owner of the car may share fault.

The vehicle owner allegedly allowed a minor with no driver's license and no insurance to operate the vehicle. The car owner may not have known the driver was unqualified to rent or drive a vehicle, but that may not matter to a jury. If a court determines the adult didn't realize but should have known the safety risk, the woman could be liable for damages.

Source:, "Teen faces 7 counts in Cahokia boy's hit-and-run death" Carolyn P. Smith, Jul. 18, 2013

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