A federal judge approved a $15.6 million settlement in the case of a horrific accident on I-65 in Northwest Indiana in which a 6-year-old boy was killed and his father’s leg severed while the boy’s mother watched, according to the attorney for the family.
US District Judge Harry Leinenweber approved the settlement between Mary and Allan J. Pierce of Chicago and System Transport Services of Spokane, Wash. Attorney Stephen M. Libman, of Chicago, said the trucking company was negligent in its responsibility toward safety by using the “cheapest and most unsafe method” to transport a heavy load, resulting in the death, injury, and emotional trauma suffered by the family.
On Sept. 1, 2001, the Pierce family, then of Melrose Park, was driving on I-65 near Hobart, Ind., when the family car had a flat tire, Libman said. Allan J. Pierce pulled over to the shoulder and got out to fix the tire, while Mary Pierce got out to watch, leaving their son, Allan M. Pierce, strapped in his car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
A flatbed semi truck carrying two large cherry-picker lifts weighing over 44,000 pounds rolled over coming out of a construction zone, Libman said, and one of the lifts struck Allan J. Pierce, severing his leg at the knee. The lift then struck the car, which burst into flames, he said.
Allan J. Pierce, not knowing his leg was severed, kept trying to rush toward the car to help, but kept falling down, the attorney said. Mary Pierce also tried to help, but the intense heat kept her away from the car.
Libman said Allan J. Pierce lost his leg while Mary Pierce’s injuries were the “unimaginable horror of watching her son killed and her husband lose his leg.”
Part of the purpose of the suit was to call on the governor and the trucking industry to do something about unsafe, unstable, high-gravity loads on flatbed trucks, Libman said, calling them a danger to anyone who drives on the highway.