Truck Driver Sentenced for Role in Deaths of Teenager, Other Trucker — Southern Illinois Trucking Accident Attorney

By February 13, 2009Trucking Accidents

A truck driver was sentenced to 20 years in prison for causing an Illinois accident that killed two people, the Muncie Star-Press reported Jan. 31. Robert Whitney, most recently of Albany, Ill., was driving a tractor-trailer without a license and under the influence of drugs in mid-2006 when he fell asleep at the wheel. He crashed into a guardrail and came to a stop blocking lanes, causing a traffic pileup. Another trucker was unable to stop in time and crashed into the stopped traffic, killing himself and a 15-year-old girl from Michigan, who was in one of the stopped cars with her family.
This was the third fatal accident involving Whitney. In 1985, according to the paper, he was acquitted of criminal recklessness in a boating accident that killed a 12-year-old boy. Later, in 2001, the truck driver pleaded guilty to hitting a Chicago man with his truck while intoxicated, then leaving the scene of the accident. The judge in that case suspended Whitney’s driving privileges for life. However, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which said it wasn’t informed of the suspension, issued him a license when he was released from prison in 2005. Another report says that Whitney was on parole for that violation during the 2006 accident, during which he had been driving for 40 hours straight with only a pair of two-hour breaks.
Sleep deprivation is such a common problem among truck drivers that it’s almost a cliché for Midwestern truck accident lawyers. Long-haul truckers and their trucking companies are sometimes forced to take a reduced payment if they don’t make their deliveries on time. That’s true regardless of weather, traffic or other delays that could pose special safety concerns for ten-ton trucks. Under financial pressure from clients and dispatchers, some of these truck drivers go without sleep — or, worse, turn to drugs to help them stay awake. A much smaller group of truckers also uses drugs or alcohol chronically, simply because they are addicted. In either case, this is dangerous and unacceptable behavior that puts everyone on the roads around them at risk of death, severe burns, paralysis and other catastrophic injuries.
When truckers like this one cause serious accidents with their own carelessness, they and their trucking companies are legally responsible for all of the results — physical, emotional and financial. In addition to, or instead of, bringing criminal charges, victims of serious trucking accidents have the right to bring a southern Illinois semi truck accident lawsuit for compensation for the loss of a loved one, a permanent disability and other injuries, as well as all of the financial costs of the accident.
Carey, Danis & Lowe represents victims of serious trucking accidents in Missouri and southern Illinois. If you believe you have a case and you’d like to know more about your options, please contact us online as soon as possible or call us at 1-877-678-3400.