Metro-East News

Driver who police say caused fatal 2018 accident pleads guilty to traffic citation

Frank Scott Parkway crash

Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson explains why traffic citation was issued in a fatal crash on Frank Scott Parkway. A felony charged was not filed.
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Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson explains why traffic citation was issued in a fatal crash on Frank Scott Parkway. A felony charged was not filed.

A Fairview Heights man on Thursday pleaded guilty to failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, which was the citation he received after a fatal crash on Frank Scott Parkway last fall in Swansea.

Christopher L. Pinion, 49, was ordered to pay $160 in fines and court costs, according to St. Clair County court records. He could not be reached for comment.

Pinion did not have an attorney with him when he pleaded guilty Thursday. He must pay the fine and court costs by Sept. 19 or by the date set forth by a court-approved payment plan.

Pinion was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer that collided with a 2011 Nissan Versa driven by Andrew E. Duncan, who died in the crash on Sept. 24.

The News-Democrat reported last week that police officers and prosecutors had reviewed the case to see whether a felony charge could be filed against Pinion, but the St. Clair State’s Attorney’s Office declined to seek a felony charge.

An investigation by the Illinois State Police accident reconstruction team showed that Pinion was driving 53 mph, which was 8 mph over the posted speed limit of 45 mph. Also, police determined that Pinion did not have illegal drugs or alcohol in his body and he was not using his cellphone at the time of the crash.

Pinion’s SUV hit the driver’s side of Duncan’s car when he failed to negotiate a right-hand curve in the roadway and continued straight, according to the state police report.

The “primary cause of this crash was improper lane usage” by Pinion, the ISP report states.

Police believe Duncan, 34, of Fairview Heights, was driving west on Frank Scott Parkway to his job in housekeeping at Memorial Hospital in Belleville. Pinion was driving east on the highway, which has two lanes at the place where the collision occurred.

The crash was on a bend on Frank Scott Parkway between Llewellyn Road and Sullivan Drive.

Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson has told the BND, “Our hearts go out to the family who miss him. It always has the ‘feel’ that stronger charges should be issued but we must follow the law. He was charged with what the law would allow us to issue.”

Johnson said Duncan’s family told him that they did not want to comment.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

Why did we report this story?

We wanted to give readers a follow-up report on the man cited in connection with a fatal crash that occurred on Frank Scott Parkway last fall.

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.
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