Bruce O’Neal Killed In Rock Falls Car Accident During Police Chase On Route 30
Wrongful Death - March 31, 2022
Bruce O’Neal Died In Rock Falls Police Chase Car Accident Along Route 30
ROCK FALLS, ILLINOIS (March 31, 2022) – An innocent bystander identified as Bruce O’Neal has tragically died in a car accident during a police chase along Route 30.
Whiteside County police officials are saying that the collision took place around 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The chase started in Sterling, Illinois after police attempted to stop a black Mercedes for a traffic violation.
The chase eventually continued into Rock Falls and ended when the Mercedes collided head-on with a tan pickup truck driven by Bruce O’Neal.
Paramedics were called to the scene of the collision to help all of the victims. A passenger in the pickup truck was transported to the hospital to receive treatment.
Sadly, Bruce O’Neal did not survive the crash. A full investigation into the police chase remains ongoing at this time.
Liability In Rock Falls Police Chase Accidents
Police chases are among the most dangerous activities that officers engage in. Far too often, they end in someone being seriously injured or killed. In many situations, the victims are innocent bystanders that had nothing to do with the pursuit. According to the British Medical Association, around 260 to 325 police pursuits in the United States end in a fatality every year. Roughly a third of the victims of these crashes were in vehicles uninvolved in the pursuit. There are very strict rules regarding police pursuits in Illinois.
- An officer may only initiate a pursuit when (a) the suspect is attempting to evade apprehension and (b) the suspect, if not captured, would present a danger to human life or cause serious injury.
- No more than two police officers should be actively engaged in a pursuit at any given time.
- Police officers shall not be involved in a pursuit against the flow of traffic unless given authorization by their supervisor.
- Officers must initiate their lights and sirens during the pursuit.
- A supervisor must continuously review incoming information to determine if a pursuit should be terminated.
- A supervisor must order that a pursuit be terminated if the suspect’s identity is established so that later apprehension is likely and there is no immediate threat to the public.
A police department could be liable for an accident during a police chase, if a police officer acted in a willful and wanton manner. As explained in Stehlik v. Village of Orland Park, “Willful and wanton conduct is defined in section 1–210 of the Act as: ‘a course of action which shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property. This definition shall apply in any case where a ‘willful and wanton’ exception is incorporated into any immunity under this Act.” 745 ILCS 10/1–210 (West 1998).’” In many situations, police officers chose to engage in high-speed and high-risk pursuits for minor traffic violations. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any police pursuit.
- Medical records should be preserved.
- Communication between officers should be examined.
- It should be determined if the pursuing officers followed pursuit guidelines.
- A thorough, independent investigation should be conducted.
The family of any victim that died in a police pursuit may have legal recourse through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and funeral expenses. Sadly, though, police departments will fight hard to deny liability for any collision. An Illinois wrongful death attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Rock Falls Police Pursuit Accident
We at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates extend our deepest condolences to the family of Bruce O’Neal. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. Police pursuits are so dangerous to the public. They should always be used as a measure of last resort. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Do you need more information about a Rock Falls police chase accident? Our team of consumer safety advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that accident victims and their families are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need more information about an accident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (312) 564-4256.