Bike trail designer blamed in fatal bicycle-auto accident; MCT Schoolhouse Trail cited in suit

By Kelly Holleran | May 14, 2013

The wife of a recently deceased Colorado man has filed suit against the operators of a trail where she claims her husband was operating his bike when he was struck by a car and killed.

Mary Beltz claims her husband, William Beltz, was riding his bike on a trail known as the Schoolhouse Trail near Illinois Route 111 and Horseshoe Lake Road in Madison County on May 12, 2012, when Ghio Viviano, who was driving south on Illinois Route 111 in his Chevrolet Lumina, struck him.

Mary Beltz blames the design of the trail and the intersecting road for contributing to her husband’s death.

“There were no traffic control signs placed on the MCT Schoolhouse Trail,” the suit filed May 2 in Madison County Circuit Court states. “Schoolhouse Trail has a turn in the intersection of Illinois Route 111 and Horseshoe Lake Road that requires bicyclists to slow or stop to negotiate the trail. Said turn requires bicyclists in the intersection, entering the intersection or following other bicyclists to slow to a stop or near stop in the middle of Illinois Route 111 and Horsehose Lake Road.”

Before his death, William Beltz suffered conscious pain and left his estate with funeral costs, the complaint says.

Because of her husband’s death, Mary Beltz lost his society, love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and financial support, the complaint says.

She blames the Madison County Mass Transit District, which owns the trail, and the Agency for Community Transit Board, whose employees provide upkeep on the trail, for wrongful death, saying they negligently failed to provide appropriate signs to warn of the intersection, failed to provide a stop sign for anyone using the trail and failed to warn of a dangerous turn in the trail.

Mary Beltz also names Oates Associates, which designed the trail, as a defendant, saying it negligently failed to incorporate properly situated signs in its design, failed to supervise the appropriate placement of signs along the trail, failed to place signs to warn bicyclists of an approaching dangerous intersection, failed to place a stop sign on the trail before the intersection, failed to warn of a dangerous turn in the trail and failed to design a trail that did not require a dangerous turn in it.

In her complaint, Mary Beltz is seeking a judgment of more than $400,000, plus costs.

She will be represented by G. Michael Stewart of Simmons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelides and Barnerd in Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-692.

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