Truck Driver, Company Targeted In Amtrak Crash Lawsuits

June 16, 1999

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A truck driver and the company he drives for have been named in a lawsuit resulting from the tragic Amtrak derailment in Bourbonnais, IL, in early March.

Attorneys claim driver Robert Stokes was negligent "by not clearing the crossing by the time the Amtrak gates were activated and blocking the safe path of the oncoming train." The suits also name his company, Melco Transfer.
The suits, brought by a dozen passengers injured in the crash (which also killed 11 people), also accused the Illinois Central Railroad of not maintaining the crossing properly.
Stokes had just left Birmingham Steel with a load of steel rods when the accident occurred. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash. They have not yet determined whether he tried to get around the gates to beat the train.
Stokes' license was suspended for 60 days when publicity following the crash uncovered moving violations that had gone unreported to the Secretary of State's office. His poor driving record prompted the Secretary of State to call for tighter restrictions on commercial driver licensing.

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