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Community mourns loss of family in car accident

A Cook County community is reeling from the death of yet another member of a family that was obliterated in one simple accident that may have been related to distracted driving.

Five out of six lives were lost in the crash. The family, which included a pregnant mother, three small children and their father, were on their way to an event at their church when a pickup truck ran a stop sign and hit their car. The mother, her unborn child and two of the children died at the scene. The other child, a 6-year-old boy, died a few days later after doctors were unable to save him.

While community members have held prayer vigils as they try to come to terms with the loss, the surviving family members of the victims were unable to attend -- overwhelmed, they're trying to grieve in private.

The truck's driver, who is only 25-years-old himself, suffered injuries to his arm that require surgery but is otherwise okay. While he's only been charged with a simply traffic violation so far -- running the stop sign -- more charges are probably pending. For now, authorities are taking a close look into his cellphone records to see if that played a part in whatever distracted him from the signs on the road.

Many drivers who cause lethal accidents in Illinois eventually find themselves facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, which is also known as reckless homicide. Although the defendant didn't intend to kill anyone, his or her negligence ended up taking a life anyhow. Illinois also considers the death of multiple people in the same accident to be an aggravating factor, which can lead to enhanced penalties if the defendant is convicted.

If the driver is charged with the aggravated form of involuntary manslaughter, which is a Class 2 felony, he could face up to seven years in prison and a $25,000 penalty. This is in addition to any civil penalties he might face if the surviving family members pursue a wrongful death claim against him.

Anyone who suffers the loss of an immediate family member due to a driver's negligent or reckless behavior should contact an attorney for advice. An attorney can help you claim compensation for your loss and gain some measure of justice for those who died.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "'A wonderful, loving family': Boy dies from Beecher crash that killed pregnant mother, 2 brothers," Zak Koeske and Alicia Fabbre, July 27, 2017

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