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Wisconsin Trucker Target of Civil Lawsuit After Fatal Crash

Three children of a Wisconsin woman killed in a collision with an 18-wheeler last year have filed a civil lawsuit against the truck driver, who they claim was using a cellphone at the time of the crash.

The other defendants in the suit include the trucking company the man worked for, as well as the company's insurer.

Eau Claire's Leader-Telegram reports that the 53-year-old trucker was ticketed by Wisconsin state police for inattentive driving following the truck accident last November.

The officer told the newspaper that before filing the criminal charge, he discussed with the Pepin County District Attorney inconsistencies in the truck driver's account of the accident, as well as evidence in the case.

The veteran trucker was behind the wheel of a semi owned by a Durand company when it hit a van driven by the 38-year-old woman. The crash was on Highway 85, near the Pepin County border with Dunn County.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Her 18-year-old foster daughter sustained multiple upper-body injuries. Two infants in the back seat were not seriously injured in their intact car seats.

According to the news report, the driver of the tractor-trailer was trying to pass the van in the left lane when it hit the van, which was attempting to turn left.

The truck driver initially told police he had not been using either his personal cellphone or the truck's mounted phone at the time. However, after the police obtained cellphone records, it was determined that the trucker had indeed been on the phone when the collision took place.

It's alleged that in the 38 minutes prior to the crash, the trucker made 11 calls.

The officer also found inconsistencies in what the truck driver said about the speed of his vehicle and the recorded data from the large truck before its impact with the van.

A court date has not been set.

Resource: Leader-Telegram: "Civil action aimed at driver of semi": November 28, 2010

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