Truck driver sues over chain reaction crash that caused woman's death

Andrea Dearden Sep. 29, 2011, 4:44am

A St. Clair County truck driver and his wife are suing the driver of a car that allegedly caused him to crash into another vehicle, killing its driver.

Michael and Janis Shea filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court Sept. 15 against Melissa Schroeder.

According to the complaint, Schroeder was driving south on Interstate 57 in Coles County in October 2010. Near milepost 188, Schroeder allegedly crossed the median and collided with a northbound car driven by Martinez Jones.

The crash left Jones' car in the left lane of the highway. Moments later Shea says he was driving a semi-truck north on I-57 and moved into the left lane of traffic after seeing what he thought was another semi pulled over on the right shoulder.

Shea claims he had to drive his semi-truck through smoke from the crash that had just happened, which he says blocked his view of Jones' car on the other side. Allegedly unable to see the vehicle, Shea crashed into Jones' car. The truck driver say another tractor-trailer driver did the same thing -- hitting Jones' car again.

Jones died at the scene, according to court records. Shea says while at the crash site, he got out of his truck and saw the body of Jones lying in the road.

Shea accuses Schroeder of negligence for allegedly causing a crash that sparked a chain reaction of collisions and ultimately caused Jones' death. The truck driver's wife is suing for loss of consortium. The couple is asking for more than $100,000 in damages for medical bills, loss of income and court costs.

Attorney Fred Johnson, of Mattoon, is representing the Sheas. They ask for a jury trial.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 11-L-523

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