Metro-East News

Driver in I-55 crash that killed 4 near Hamel charged with reckless homicide

The semi driver in a crash on I-55 near Hamel that killed four people in November has been charged with reckless homicide in connection to the crash.

Mohamed Y. Jama was operating his semi in a construction zone faster than he should have been, according to a news release from the Madison County State's Attorney's Office. Charges allege that he failed to reduce speed appropriately for the traffic conditions in the zone.

Some officers who responded to the scene of the crash in November called it the worst crash they had ever seen. Eight vehicles were involved in the crash, injuring 11 and killing four young women.

The crash was captured on video by a camera in a tractor-trailer not involved in the crash. The video showed that Jama's truck "crashed into multiple passenger vehicles in front of it without braking," according to a search warrant affidavit filed shortly after the crash to search Jama's truck.

Jama was charged Monday with four counts of reckless homicide and eight counts of aggravated reckless driving. If convicted, Jama faces three to 14 years in prison for each reckless homicide charge, and one to three years for each reckless driving charge.

The families of two of the victims in the crash also filed a civil lawsuit against Jama.

Jama turned himself in to police Monday, and was being held at the Madison County Jail. He is being held with no bond.

  • Hailey J. Bertels, 20, and her 17-year-old sister, Madisen N. Bertels, both of Staunton, died at the scene of the crash. Their Kia was the first car to be hit by the semi. 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, was also a 2015 Staunton High School graduate. The 20-year-old died from her injuries at Saint Louis University Medical Center on Nov. 30. Carroll was a student at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase School of Law. She was a passenger in the Bertels’ vehicle.
  • Vivian Vu, of Joplin, Missouri, died on Thanksgiving after also suffering injuries in the crash. The 19-year-old was a sophomore at Missouri Southern State University and a 2016 graduate from Joplin High School.