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Northern Illinois widower sues county over missing stop sign

The husband of a young northern Illinois mother who was killed in a car wreck this spring is suing the local sheriff's department for $4 million for his wife's death. The 32-year-old woman, who taught English at a local high school, was killed when she entered an intersection where the stop sign was missing.

The accident occurred on May 20 where Ogle and Stephenson counties meet. The woman, who was pregnant, was driving west on Montague Road to an obstetrician's appointment around 7:00 a.m. Police say she drove into the intersection without stopping and hit another car headed north on Rock City Road. The Polo High School English teacher, who was the mother of a two-year-old boy, was airlifted to a hospital in Rockford, where she subsequently died from her injuries.

The Illinois State Police confirmed that the stop sign at the intersection of Rock City Road and Montague Road that normally is there to stop drivers on Montague Road was missing. It is believed that the previous night's storm uprooted it and blew it into a field nearby.

According to the wrongful death suit, an area resident called 911 just before 6:00 a.m. that morning to report the missing sign, and spoke to a dispatcher who said it would be replaced. However, the suit states that the dispatcher then took another call and forgot about the missing sign. Another dispatcher came on duty a few minutes later, and the missing sign was never reported.

Tragically, according to the lawsuit, Stephenson County Highway Department employees were in the field at 6:00 a.m. to look for signs knocked down by the previous night's strong winds, and could have promptly replaced the sign had they gotten word of it. The teacher's husband, who also teaches at Polo High School, is suing the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department for the dispatcher's failure to report the missing sign.

It seems that the county should accept some liability in the death of this young mother. A settlement would provide important financial assistance to her husband and toddler. However, no amount of money can make up for their loss.

OgleCountyNews.com, "Husband of Polo teacher killed in car crash is suing the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department" Vinde Wells, Oct. 02, 2013

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