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Illinois troopers: Fatality caused by drugged, drunk driver

A one-time volunteer firefighter killed in a recent head-on collision near Petersburg, Illinois, left behind a wife and a one-year-old son. State police said the out-of-state driver who caused the recent, violent car accident on Illinois 97 was speeding and under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The midday crash occurred when the accused man drove a pickup truck across the center line and directly into the victim's vehicle. The Tennessee truck driver survived with non-life-threatening injuries. Crews hurried to free the second driver and airlift him to a hospital. Doctors pronounced the 27-year-old Decatur husband and father dead less than two hours after the auto accident.

The victim died three years after he married and just a year after becoming a father. The widow faces a future without her husband's companionship and income. The couple's child has been deprived of a parent's emotional and financial support.

The consequences for a drunk-driving conviction are severe in Illinois but, no matter what fines and prison term are imposed, the consequences are temporary compared to the loss felt by the victim's family. The victim's child may remember his father only through photographs and family stories.

Investigators claim the fatality could have been prevented. State troopers said -- and a wrongful death jury might concur -- the pickup truck operator chose to get behind the wheel while he was high and drunk. Proven negligence in civil court would give the crash victim's family a chance to recover some of the losses they will endure in the months and years to come.

Damages awarded in a liability action may include coverage of the Decatur man's last medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages and the victim's pain and suffering. Compensation also may be provided for the widow and child's "grief, sorrow and mental suffering," according to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.

Source:, "Accident victim remembered as family man, friend" Nicole Harbour, Jul. 27, 2013

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