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University of Illinois students hit by erratic driver; 1 killed

The news of an accidental death often generates a feeling of empathy for the victim's family members. Relatives bear the immediate emotional pain and suffering, and many times, the financial weight of a loved one's last medical bills and funeral expenses.

The death of a young person in a fatal crash may not be felt consciously within a community, since the victim's future accomplishments are never realized. Potential is lost. With the loss of a single, brilliant student or gifted artist, a community or nation loses a resource of cultural or economic enrichment.

A competitive pianist died in an auto accident near the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois, where she had been a top student. The 20-year-old woman was walking with a fellow student along a sidewalk, when a Chevrolet pickup bounced over a curb and struck them. The friend suffered injuries; the young pianist died.

Police said the truck driver's behavior was unusual, nearly a mile before the pedestrian collision. Witnesses told authorities the truck blew a tire and glanced off another vehicle before the fatality. The 58-year-old driver apparently didn't stop, even after striking the two women. The truck continued for several blocks before the driver stopped.

The Urbana driver was ticketed for uninsured driving and a traffic infraction. The man had previously been ticketed for the same or similar violations. Prosecutors suggested other charges might follow, following the outcome of a driver toxicology test.

Medical episodes have been known to cause drivers to crash but, most of the time, drivers have control over their actions. Laws set limits on behavior. Driving restrictions are in place for alcohol consumption and talking or texting on electronic devices.

No particular Illinois law addresses incidents of road rage, although angry drivers who cause accidents may be tried for negligence. A driver whose aggression leads to harm can be ordered to pay damages.

Source:, "University of Illinois student killed by truck remembered as 'amazing young lady'" Juan Perez Jr. and Ellen Jean Hirst, Oct. 11, 2013

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