Cook County, IL- The National Traffic Safety Board has released their preliminary report on a tractor-trailer accident that occurred last January on the Illinois Tollway which garnered national attention. One Tollway worker was killed in the accident and an Illinois State Trooper was seriously injured.
On January 27th at approximately 7:45 p.m. an Illinois Tollway worker, 39 year-old Vincent Petrelli, stopped to assist the driver of a broken down tractor-trailer. An Illinois State Trooper, 39 year-old Douglas Balder also stopped to help. But soon after, a tractor-trailer came along and struck the parked vehicles, which in turn struck Petrelli, killing him instantly.
Trooper Balder suffered serious injuries, including a head injury, several broken ribs and burns, and continues to recover from the devastating crash.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, 49 year Renato Velasquez, said he caused the accident because another tractor-trailer was blocking his line of sight. He revealed during the course of the investigation that he had been working for 37 hours straight prior to the accident. Despite that his attorney denies that he was fatigued at the time of the crash.
Police charged him several counts including driving a commercial vehicle while impaired and fatigued, driving beyond the maximum number of hours and four counts of falsifying his driver log books. Velasquez pleaded not guilty to the charges. His criminal case is still pending and the charges he is facing could change.
The preliminary report from the NTSB notes that at the time of the accident it was dark and the area where the accident occurred did not have adequate lighting. They also noted in their report that the trucking company Velasquez worked for DND International had “alerts in 2 of the 5 BASIC categories on which a carrier is measured.” Those alerts were in the “areas of unsafe driving and hours of service compliance,” according to the NTSB report.
The NTSB report is just preliminary and their findings could change as their investigation progresses.
Trooper Balder and Petrelli’s family have filed civil suits against Velasquez and DND International.
Most truck driver follow regulations and do whatever they can to avoid deadly collisions like this one. Tragically, not all truck drivers or trucking companies are more concerned about their bottom lines and don’t take safety seriously. Many truck drivers can drive millions of miles and never cause a deadly or injurious truck accident. But there are plenty of bad drivers out there who hurt people.
Victims of a catastrophic truck accident are urged to speak with a Cook County truck accident attorney to discuss their legal rights. In many cases, a truck accident victims is eligible for significant compensation to cover their medical bills, loss of wages and emotional distress.
When you retain one of our truck accident attorneys in Cook County, you can have confidence that they will use their experience and their investigative skills to ensure you are fairly compensated. They are dedicated to each and every one of their clients and won’t stop fighting for you until you get every dollar you deserve.