Kelly E. Wilson : Illinois Taxpayers to Pay $2.5 Million for Fatal Collision Involving State Trooper

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : Illinois taxpayers will be responsible for paying over $2.5 million in damages to the children of Kelly E. Wilson, a Decatur mom who tragically lost her life in a collision with a speeding State Trooper. The decision was made by four judges in the state’s Court of Claims in response to a lawsuit filed by Wilson’s family.

Initially, the court awarded the family more than $4.7 million in damages. However, the judges reduced the final payment by 45% due to Wilson’s own negligence, ruling that her blood alcohol level and elevated cannabis levels were beyond the legal limit for driving. Despite this, expert testimony suggested that Wilson’s reactions were not impaired at the time of the crash.

The collision occurred on the night of May 7, 2016, at the intersection of West Harrison and Oakland avenues. Wilson was turning left when her van was rammed by Master Sgt. Jeffrey A. Denning’s squad car, which was traveling at 108 mph with its emergency lights activated. Denning admitted that his speed and intermittent use of the siren contributed to the accident.

Denning, now retired, was sentenced to 24 months probation and 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty to reckless conduct. The court determined that he was 55% responsible for the crash, while Wilson was 45% responsible.

Wilson’s family will receive a total of $2,591,761.26 in damages. The funds will be allocated to her two daughters for their grief and mental suffering, as well as economic damages for lost wages and an additional payout for Wilson’s pain and suffering before her death.

However, payment of the judgment is pending the passage of a “Special Awards Bill” by the Illinois General Assembly. It is expected that the bill will become law in the assembly’s 2024 spring session.

The tragic accident occurred when Denning was rushing to respond to an emergency call regarding a wounded officer. The suspect, Dracy “Clint” Pendleton, was later killed in a gun battle with the police. Denning’s retirement followed the crash.

Despite the reduction in damages due to Wilson’s negligence, the court emphasized that she had no right to be driving that night. The judges stated that her violation of the vehicle code, by driving under the influence, contributed to the accident.

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