Truck driver Mohamed Yussuf Jama has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving following a fatal eight-vehicle collision on I-55 in November.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons charged Jama with four counts of reckless homicide, a class 2 felony, and eight counts of aggravated reckless driving, a class 4 felony, following an investigation by the Illinois State Police with assistance from the Illinois Department of Transportation and the US Marshals.
The maximum penalty rate for a class 2 felony is 3-14 years in prison. The maximum penalty for a class 4 felony is 1-3 years in prison.
Jama turned himself in Monday afternoon and will remain in custody at the Madison County jail in Edwardsville, where he is being held without bond.
The charges allege Jama was driving a 2016 Cascadia Freightliner tractor trailer in a construction zone near the Hamel exit on I-55 at a speed which was greater than reasonable and proper given the traffic conditions. The charges allege Jama failed to appropriately reduce speed and caused the fatal, multi-vehicle collision.
As a result, Madisen N. Bertels, Hailey J. Bertels, Tori R. Carroll and Vivian Vu were killed, and 11 other individuals were injured in the crash.
Family members of both Carroll and Vu have filed civil wrongful death lawsuits against Jama, his employer FAF Inc. and Keller Construction in the Madison County Circuit Court.
Jama had filed two motions to quash service in Carroll’s suit, arguing that he had not been properly served in Greeley, Colo. Instead, he claims he had been in Minnesota and Ohio when he was allegedly served via substitute service.
According to Carroll’s suit (18-L-54), she had been riding as a front seat passenger in a 2010 Kia Forte with Madisen Bertels, 17, and Hailey Bertels, 20, on Nov. 21 when the vehicle slowed due to lane restrictions in a construction zone in the southbound lanes of I-55.
Jama crashed his truck into the Kia Forte, driving over the top of the Kia. Carroll, 20, died as a result of her injuries on Nov. 30.
Hailey and Madisen Bertels were pronounced dead at the scene.
The suit suggests Jama may have been using a cell phone or another electronic device at the time of the crash.
According to Vu’s suit (18-L-301), she was riding as a passenger in a 2016 Chevrolet Express bus along with other students returning from an academic conference in Chicago when Jama caused the multi-vehicle collision. Vu, 19, suffered injuries resulting in her death on Nov. 23.
Keller Construction is named a defendant in the suits as the general contractor performing repairs and construction on an asphalt crossover on the interstate. Keller Construction also installed the traffic control devices preceding and within the construction zone.