Friday, August 16, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The family of Ruth Johnson, who was fatally injured in a car crash on Father’s Day, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man who was driving the vehicle Johnson was a passenger in at the time of her death.
The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County on June 27 by the Law Offices of Peter M. Delongis, Ltd., which is based in Oak Brook Terrace. Paula Ali, Johnson’s sister and the administrator of her estate, is named as the plaintiff. Edward N. Owens, the man who was driving the car Johnson was a passenger in, is listed as the defendant. The lawsuit also lists the village of Maywood as an additional defendant for discovery purposes.
According to the lawsuit, Johnson was the passenger in a vehicle owned and operated by Owens on June 16, when the crash happened. The car was traveling northbound on First Avenue and turning onto Randolph Street, when it collided with another vehicle traveling south on First Avenue near the intersection with Randolph.
The lawsuit claims that Owens “carelessly and negligently” failed to properly signal; failed to “stop the automobile in time to avoid coming into contact with the aforesaid oncoming vehicle”; turned left in front of the oncoming vehicle without properly yielding to it; failed to “keep a safe and proper lookout”; and failed to reduce his speed to avoid hitting the other car, among other claims.
Johnson, 40, sustained significant injuries and was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 11:52 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Owens was also injured and in critical condition at the time of the crash, but survived.
After the crash, Maywood Police detained two juveniles. Police said they were driving a stolen vehicle out of Naperville, when the car was spotted by a Maywood officer, who noticed they had committed a traffic violation. After the officer activated the squad car lights, “the kids took off,” Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley said at the time.
“Officers did not pursue them,” the chief said at the time, when asked if the police were in pursuit of the juveniles. “It wasn’t a chase, but we’re still going to do an investigation.”
Talley said in June that the Cook County Sheriff’s Department was conducting an investigation into Johnson’s death while the Illinois State Police were doing accident reconstruction work.
“We’re going to be looking at the in-car camera video and other records to make sure officers did everything within our policy and procedures,” Talley said at the time.
During an interview on Aug. 16, however, the chief said that the sheriff’s department and state police were not investigating the crash. Talley said that the department plans to recommend that the Maywood Board of Trustees authorize the hiring of a private investigative firm to investigate the crash.
“It’s my understanding that the state police does officer-involved shootings,” Talley said. “This wasn’t that.”
Talley said that he imagines that both the sheriff’s department and the state police “didn’t have the staffing or resources” to investigate the June 16 crash.
Talley said that any charges that may be brought against the two juveniles are pending while the crash is still under investigation.
A pre-trial hearing for the wrongful death lawsuit is scheduled to take place on Aug. 27 at the Maywood Court House. Attorneys representing Ali declined to comment on Friday. | VFP
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