Metro-East News

Second lawsuit filed in I-55 crash that killed 4 in November

Staunton community dealing with tragedy after sisters are killed

Staunton school officials talk about the tragedy, and how they are helping students and community heal after the death of two of their own.
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Staunton school officials talk about the tragedy, and how they are helping students and community heal after the death of two of their own.

Another lawsuit has been filed against a truck driver, his employer and a construction company in connection with a multiple-vehicle crash on Interstate 55 that killed four people in November 2017.

The eight-vehicle crash on Nov. 21 near Hamel killed four women, including two sisters from Staunton.

Phong Vu, who represents Vivian Vu and her estate, filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court against the driver of the semi that crashed into seven other vehicles. The semi driver was Mohamed Jama, of Colorado. Vu’s lawsuit also names Jama's employer, trucking company Forward Air Solutions, and construction company Keller Construction. Keller was involved in road construction in the area of the crash. The lawsuit seeks in excess of $50,000 under the wrongful death act.

The suit does not specify how Phong Vu is related to Vivian Vu, who was a student at Missouri Southern State University. She was riding back from a Model United Nations Conference in Chicago when the vehicle she and other students were riding in was struck. Vu died two days after the crash at a St. Louis hospital.

Vivian Vu, a sophomore at Missouri Southern State University, died Thursday from injuries suffered in an eight-vehicle crash on Interstate 55, near Hamel. Provided

The first lawsuit stemming from the crash was filed by the family of Tori Carroll, of Alhambra, who was killed. The two others killed in the crash were sisters from Staunton, 20-year-old Hailey Bertels and 17-year-old Madisen Bertels.

In the Vu suit, Phong Vu says Jama, the driver, was negligent and careless in operating the semi and failed to decrease his speed or swerve to avoid the collision. The suit alleges Forward Air Solutions had a duty to ensure their hired driver operated in a safe manner, and alleges that Keller should have known the construction work created a dangerous condition to the public.

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 said the crash remains under investigation. No charges have been filed related to the crash.

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

Also still under investigation is a crash in the area that killed one woman about three weeks later. That fatal crash has also led to a lawsuit by William McKinney, whose wife, Pauline, died in the Dec. 15 crash.