Metro-East News

Family of Swansea woman killed in alleged DUI crash sues driver

Samantha Miller Memorial Service

Friends and family of Samantha Miller held a gravesite service to remember the mother of three killed in a crash on October 21.
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Friends and family of Samantha Miller held a gravesite service to remember the mother of three killed in a crash on October 21.

The family of Samantha Miller is suing the man who allegedly drove drunk and killed her, as well as the bar that served him the alcohol.

Samantha Miller, 27, of Swansea, was killed on Oct. 23 when she and her three children were stranded beside Interstate 55 when her car broke down. The car that struck her and her vehicle on the side of the road was driven by Steven Willis, 38, of Maryville, who police believe was intoxicated.

Willis is charged with two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with the crash that killed Miller. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. Willis also has received at least 40 traffic citations since 1994 in Madison and St. Clair counties, most of which were dismissed with “court supervision,” so they never impacted his official driving record.

Now Joshua Miller and Barry Monroe, who are the administrators of Samantha Miller’s estate, have filed suit in St. Clair County against Willis and The Hangar, a tavern near his employer, Jet Aviation Inc.

Joshua Miller is the father of the children, who were injured when Willis’ car struck their vehicle, and is suing on their behalf for their injuries and for the alteration in their lives, according to the complaint.

Miller and Monroe are also suing The Hangar, which is a bar in Cahokia where Willis allegedly went for drinks on the day in question. They are suing Willis for at least $50,000 plus court costs on each of four counts, and The Hangar for at least $50,000 plus costs on each of the four counts.

The Hangar’s owners could not be reached for comment.

Willis’ employer, Jet Aviation Inc., is named a respondent in discovery, to require it to provide information regarding the case, but is not named as defendants.

The suit was filed last month in St. Clair County courts. Willis has hired prominent St. Louis attorney Scott Rosenblum to defend him; the Miller family is represented by Bonifeld and Rosenstengel of Belleville.

Rosenblum said he is only defending Willis in the criminal case, and did not know if Willis has hired an attorney for the civil case yet. Willis’ criminal charges are pending in Madison County Court; he is next due to appear on Feb. 16. Rosenblum said they are “going through all the evidence” and could not comment further.

The Miller family’s representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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