MLK bridge crash suit filed in St. Clair County

Ann Knef Mar. 24, 2006, 11:07am

A grim reminder of a fiery crash that claimed four lives and shut down the Martin Luther King Bridge on Nov. 12, 2004, showed up in St. Clair County Circuit Court on March 22.

Jessica Wahlman, whose father was among the victims, filed a wrongful death suit against Boeing Aerospace Operations Inc. and the wife of RideFinder van driver, Richard Cissell, who also was killed after a head-on collision with a tractor trailer.

Wahlman claims that Cissell drove the van "while sleepy" and crossed the center line as he was ferrying passengers to work in St. Louis.

According to news reports, the passengers came from Randolph, Monroe and St. Clair counties and were headed to their jobs at Boeing and GKN Aerospace, a British aerospace company. The accident occurred at 5:30 a.m. and shut the bridge down for five hours.

Boeing leases vans from RideFinder -- a federally-funded program operated by the Madison County Transit Company.

Jessica Wahlman, from Monroe County, handles the estate of her father, Robert Wahlman. She is represented by Gregory L. Shevlin of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer & Shevlin in Belleville.

She is seeking in excess of $100,000 in damages.

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