Vincenzo Petrella and his wife Sandra Petrella | provided photo
Updated: April 12, 2014 6:10AM
The wife of an Illinois Tollway worker who died in a fiery January crash on the Reagan Memorial Tollway is suing the truck driver charged with causing the crash and the trucking company that employed him.
Sandra Petrella, whose husband, Vincenzo Petrella, was killed in the Jan. 27 crash on Interstate 88 near Aurora, filed the negligence and wrongful death suit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court.
The suit seeks more than $200,000 in damages from truck driver Renato V. Velasquez, 46, of Hanover Park, and trucking firm DND International.
The 39-year-old Petrella, a Park Ridge resident and tollway employee since 2001, was assisting a disabled truck on the eastbound side of I-88 near Eola Road, when a truck driven by Velasquez crashed into the parked vehicles. Petrella was the first tollway employee killed on the job since 2003.
Illinois State Trooper Douglas J. Balder, 38, who also had stopped at the scene, was critically injured in the crash.
All of the vehicles were parked in the right-hand lane and shoulder of the tollway and had their emergency lights activated, according to the suit.
Velasquez was charged Jan. 28 with operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired or fatigued, making a false report of a record and duty status, and driving beyond the 14- and 11-hour rules, according to Illinois State Police.
DuPage County prosecutors allege Velasquez had been working for 37 straight hours before the crash.
“These semi-tractor trailer trucks being operated by sleepy drivers turn into missiles on our highways and are just as dangerous as a loaded gun,” attorney Thomas Demetrio said in a statement from the Corboy & Demetrio law firm, which is representing Sandra Petrella.
A representative from DND International would not comment on the suit.
On Feb. 10, Balder also sued Velasquez and DND International for an undisclosed amount in damages. Balder suffered a fractured clavicle, fractured ribs, multiple head and facial lacerations, and second- and third-degree burns in the crash, according to that lawsuit.