Illinois State Police trooper's widow sues trucking company

By Robert Patrick post-dispatch


The widow of Illinois State Police Trooper Kyle Deatherage, who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer truck during a traffic stop in November, sued the truck company and the driver Wednesday, claiming that the driver should have never been behind the wheel.

Deatherage, 32, died instantly on Nov. 26, when he was struck while standing along northbound Interstate 55 near Litchfield.

The wrongful death and misconduct suit, filed in Madison County, names driver Johnny B. Felton, DOT Foods and subsidiary DOT Transportation.

The suit claims Felton was driving despite being “medically unfit” and that the company allowed Felton to drive despite the fact that he was an “imminent danger to the public.”

In November, the U.S. Department of Transportation said that Felton Jr., 51, of Hinesville, Ga., lost consciousness before the crash. The agency issued an order declaring Felton an “imminent hazard,” barred him from commercial driving and said that he had an unspecified medical condition that should have made him ineligible for a commercial license.

DOT Foods general counsel could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

The company has said that they removed Felton, who was uninjured, from the road after the crash.

“It is also DTI’s policy that no driver will drive for DTI unless he or she is in full compliance with the Federal Motor Safety Act and has a valid medical card issued by the Department of Transportation-certified physician,” a company statement said. “The driver involved in this accident has a valid medical card.”

Deatherage lived in St. Jacob with his wife, Sarah, and two children, Kaylee, 4, and Camden, 10 months old and was assigned to motorcycle patrol in District 18, based in Litchfield.