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Illinois driver cited after snow-related fatality

Illinois drivers are used to snowy, cold winters. According to the Illinois State Climatological Office, Chicago receives an average of 38 inches of snow each year. Less than half that amount usually falls in Southern Illinois, but it doesn't take a lot of snow for drivers to run into problems.

Snow was a factor in a recent fatal car accident near Urbana. A driver was unable to maintain control of a box truck on Interstate 74. The truck crashed through wires in the median and slammed into a van.

State troopers said the van's occupants suffered the worst from the collision. Rescue crews spent 45 minutes trying to free the 37-year-old male driver and a 33-year-old female passenger, both from Catlin. The woman died at the accident scene about an hour after the accident.

The injured driver was transported to an Urbana hospital, where he was reported in fair condition. Reports did not say what injuries the man suffered.

The crash involved three cars and four other people, none of whom apparently were injured. The third vehicle was affected by the wires broken by the box truck as it crossed the highway.

The 35-year-old truck driver was cited for invalid driver's license classification, improper lane usage and failing to slow down to avoid an accident. Reports did not say whether police were considering charges related to the injury or death. During that snowy day, troopers in the nine-county region responded to dozens of accidents, although none of the other collisions was fatal.

Poor weather does not excuse negligent drivers. Drivers are expected to adjust to changing traffic and weather conditions by slowing down and maintaining safe following distances. Drivers who disregard the safety of other motorists, by speeding or performing some other reckless action, may be held accountable in criminal and civil courts for accidents that cause injuries or deaths.

Source: The News-Gazette, "Latest winter storm claims life of Catlin woman on I-74" Mary Schenk, Jan. 19, 2014

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