Suit alleges driver was drunk and driving on suspended license

Ann Knef Dec. 11, 2006, 7:43am

The families of two Alton Middle School students allege a Godfrey woman was driving a pickup truck under the influence of alcohol and on a suspended license when she struck and seriously injured the children as they were walking to school on Sept. 12.

The children, Devonta Cotton and Amber Nichols, were walking on the east side of Elizabeth Street near the intersection of Powhattan Street at approximately 7:20 a.m. when Cyrstal M. Bourland, traveling westbound on Powhattan, drove a Chevrolet S-10 off of the roadway into the east shoulder of Elizabeth Street, according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 8 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

The suit claims Bourland failed to keep her vehicle on the right one-half of the roadway.

The plaintiffs, Buena Cotton and Lisa Cotton, are seeking in excess of $600,000 from Bourland and her husband, Donald Bourland, as well as Alton Community Unit School District 11.

Bourland's license was suspended for "the use of alcohol or drugs," the complaint states.

The suit claims the school district is negligent for failing to provide a school bus for mentally challenged students who have to walk to school at a distance in excess of one-and-a-half miles.

Alton Community Unit School District 11 "failed to provide a school bus for children, whose route to school was hazardous, dangerous, narrow, curvy and windy roads without sidewalks," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs are represented by Paul M. Storment, Jr. of Belleville.

Devonta Cotton sustained a closed head injury and injuries to his back, neck, internal and external organs, the complaint states.

Amber Nichols sustained injuries to her arm, back, neck and internal and external organs.

Each of the children required hospitalization, according to the complaint.

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