I was saddened to read a report that five people were killed in a crash in a southern Illinois area known for its hills. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a Chevy Trailblazer crashed late on Nov. 23 in Hamilton County, Illinois. Driver Darrell Delong reportedly lost control of the vehicle in an area locally called the Thrill Hills, near McLeansboro. The vehicle flipped, killing Tammy Delong, 35, Lori Parker, 42, Diana Wright, 23, Robert Parker, 49, and Katelynn Fancher, 16. Only Robert Parker was wearing a seat belt. Illinois State Police investigated the crash, and after toxicology reports came back, Darrell Delong was charged with five counts of aggravated DUI and one of reckless homicide. The Hamilton County Sheriff said it was the second deadliest crash he’d seen in the county.
The sheriff explained that the area is called the Thrill Hills because there are high hills that can be exciting if crossed at a high speed. He added that it was difficult to tell if Delong was speeding, however, because the Trailblazer had gone airborne before the crash. The vehicle flipped over several times, the article said, throwing five people from the car. Only Robert Parker remained in the vehicle (or wore his seat belt); rescue crews worked for an hour to free him, but he died at the scene. Also dead at the scene were Lori Parker, Wright and Tammy Delong. Fancher was airlifted to an Evansville, Indiana hospital, but also died there. Darrell Delong was hospitalized in critical condition right after the crash. He is currently in jail and will have a preliminary hearing December 19.
It’s doubtful that Darrell Delong intended to kill anybody. News reports say Tammy Delong was Darrell Delong’s wife, Fancher was his daughter or stepdaughter and Wright was his niece. But it doesn’t matter, for criminal law purposes, whether a driver meant to kill anyone—only that he did. Similarly, if the families of the people who died in this crash wanted to pursue a southern Illinois car crash lawsuit, it wouldn’t matter that Delong truly never meant to hurt anyone. In fact, anyone who filed such a suit would have a good chance of winning. That’s not only because of the drinking, but because speeding is apparently a known problem in the area. However, a jury would likely apportion some responsibility to the people who died because they weren’t wearing seat belts.
Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients across Missouri and southern Illinois who suffered serious injuries in a car crash that was no fault of their own. We understand how serious car wrecks can be, because we work every day with people struggling to put their lives back together after a catastrophic crash. A motor vehicle accident lawsuit can help victims get the financial assistance they need after a crash. In addition to serious injuries, a crash can be financially catastrophic because it keeps breadwinners out of work at a time when the family needs to pay sky-high medical bills, replace a car and more. Our Missouri personal injury attorneys can help clients claim all of the compensation they’re entitled to and pursue it in a court of law.
If you’d like to talk to an experienced attorney about your rights and your legal options, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today for a free consultation. You can send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400.
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