Metro-East News

Police release ID of truck driver in I-55 crash that killed 4; investigation ongoing

Candelight vigil for young women killed in I-55 pileup

Taylor Mitchell speaks at a vigil for Hailey and Madisen Bertels, and Tori Carroll, who were killed in a pileup on Interstate 55 near Hamel. Rev. Debbie Jo Atkins also recites a poem. The vigil took place at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Sta
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Taylor Mitchell speaks at a vigil for Hailey and Madisen Bertels, and Tori Carroll, who were killed in a pileup on Interstate 55 near Hamel. Rev. Debbie Jo Atkins also recites a poem. The vigil took place at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Sta

Illinois State Police on Saturday released the name of the driver who was behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer that smashed into seven cars at highway speed, killing two Staunton sisters, their friend and another student.

Mohamed Yussuf Jama, 53, of Greeley, Colo., was the truck driver, according to Illinois State Police spokesman Calvin Dye Jr.

No citations had been issued to Jama as of Saturday.

“The investigation into the crash is ongoing,” Dye said.

Jama could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.

State Police investigators are reviewing Jama’s medical records, toxicology, commercial driver log books and the truck, Dye said.

Jama’s 2016 Freightliner Cascadia slammed into cars on Interstate 55 with “no attempt to stop,” Dye said. The cars were slowed or stopped in traffic, ahead of the truck. The semi ran over some vehicles.

Illinois State Police say eight vehicles were involved in the crash, which occurred at about 6:15 p.m. Nov. 21 on I-55’s southbound side at milepost 27, just south of Hamel. There were 12 people with injuries and four confirmed fatalities.

Bartels Sisters
Hailey Bartels (left)and sister Madisen Bertels (right) Provided

“This is one of the worst crashes some of us have ever seen,” Dye said.

Jama has been interviewed, Dye said. Dye declined to give details on what Jama said caused the crash.

Among the fatalities:

▪  Hailey J. Bertels, 20, and her 17-year-old sister, Madisen N. Bertels, both of Staunton, died at the scene of the crash.

Torithisone
Tori Carroll Provided

Madisen was a senior at Staunton High School, and her sister was a 2015 graduate. Hailey was a junior at Murray State University studying communication disorders.

▪  Tori Carroll, of Alhambra, a 2015 Staunton High School graduate, died at Saint Louis University Medical Center at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Carroll was a student at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase School of Law. She was a passenger in the Bertels’ vehicle.

vu
Vivian Vu Provided

▪  Vivian Vu, of Joplin, Mo., died on Thanksgiving after also suffering injuries in the crash.

Vu, 19, was a sophomore at Missouri Southern State University and a 2016 graduate from Joplin High School.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

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