Trooper's widow sues truck driver, trucking companies

By Kimberely Lennard, Land Line staff writer | 1/11/2013

The widow of an Illinois State Police trooper is suing a truck driver and two trucking companies. Sarah Deatherage’s husband, Kyle, was struck by a semi driven by Johnny B. Felton on Nov. 26, 2012.

Sarah Deatherage filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Jan. 9 against DOT Foods Inc. and its subsidiary DOT Transportation Inc., plus a willful and wanton misconduct lawsuit against Felton, according to the complaint. Felton was a driver for DOT Transportation, based in Mt. Sterling, IL.

Felton is accused of driving his truck “when he knew he was medically unfit to do so,” the complaint states. DOT Foods and DOT Transportation allegedly allowed him to drive when he was an “imminent danger to the public.”

Kyle Deatherage, 32, was conducting a traffic stop on I-55 near Litchfield just after 9 a.m. when Felton struck him, according to a press release from the Illinois State Police.

Four days later, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared Felton an “imminent hazard” and ordered him out of service. Investigators discovered Felton failed to disclose disqualifying medical conditions and the medications prescribed to treat them, an FMCSA press release states. Felton’s commercial driver’s license was issued by the State of Georgia.

The out-of-service order states that Felton told his doctor that he did not have a history of the medical condition, the specifics of which were not released to the public. He admitted he lost consciousness at the time of the crash. After the crash, Felton admitted he had the medical condition and officers found prescription medications with his name on them inside the truck.

A criminal investigation is ongoing. Charges have not been filed against Felton at this time, Thomas Q. Keefe Jr., Deatherage’s attorney, told Land Line.

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