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Phone: 630-932-9100

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Illinois Trucker Charged in Nine Felony Counts Related to Roadside Nebraska Crash

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Five people are dead and an Illinois truck driver is in jail facing nine felony counts following two related traffic accidents on Interstate 80 in Nebraska early last Sunday. Published reports show that at 4:22 a.m. MDT, the Cheyenne County Sheriff's Office responded to a report that a tractor-trailer, operated by Vladimir Zhukov, 66, of Oak Park, Ill., was stalled on the interstate near mile marker 38 and had been hit from behind by a tractor-trailer driven by Keith A. Johnson, 27, of Big Lake, Minn. Johnson died in the impact. The stalled truck and truck accident had backed up traffic in the westbound lanes when the second accident occurred near mile marker 41. There, authorities said, a tractor-trailer driven by Josef Slezak, 36, River Grove, Ill., rammed into 2010 Ford Mustang driven by Christopher Schmidt, 30, of Gaithersburg, Md., which in turn rammed into a 2007 Toyota Corolla that was operated by Schmidt's wife, Diana, also of Gaithersburg, and in which the couple's two children, Conner, 2, and Samual, 3, were traveling. The impact propelled Diana Schmidt's car into a tractor-trailer driven by William David Weiner, 49, of Algona, Iowa. All the vehicles involved burst into flames, authorities said, but Weiner was able to disconnect his trailer before the fire reached his cab. All four of the Schmidts died at the scene. An autopsy later revealed that Diana Schmidt was 30 weeks pregnant. Slezak was at first charged with eight felony counts, four each of manslaughter and vehicular homicide. After learning that Mrs. Schmidt was pregnant, Cheyenne County Attorney Paul Schaub amended the charge to a ninth count of vehicular homicide of an unborn child, a Class IV felony. Slezak is being held in the Cheyenne County jail on $1 million bond. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 24. If you have experienced injuries due to the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to compensation proportionate to your suffering. Please contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in DuPage County to maximize your possible benefits. Our lawyers in DuPage County will listen to your situation- if you've been in a truck accident, contact our DuPage County truck accident lawyers for assistance.
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