A husband in Chicago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a driver after his pregnant wife and their three children were killed in a car accident.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the man, Edward Schmidt, in Will County. The 25-year-old driver, Sean Woulfe, is facing 16 counts of reckless driving for the accident.
Prosecutors say Woulfe was traveling at 20 mph over the posted speed limit when he ran through a stop sign at Corning Road and Yates Avenue in Beecher. Woulfe is accused of crashing into Schmidt’s wife’s vehicle, which was carrying her three sons.
Court documents say the pickup was hit on the driver’s side, and sent the vehicle rolling into a field. Woulfe was allegedly traveling at 20 mph over the 55-mph speed limit.
The wife, Lindsey, 29, and her 19-month-old son were pronounced dead at the scene. The other two children died in the following days after the crash.
Woulfe pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bond was reduced from $1 million to $250,000 during a court appearance. He posted bond that day. He faces ten years in prison. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 14.
In the bond reduction hearing, which lasted more than 30 minutes, Woulfe’s attorney stressed that while the accident was horrific, it was not intentional. His attorney also stressed that the reckless homicide charges against him are probationary offenses. The attorney reminded the court that even if convicted, Woulfe still stands a good chance of receiving court probation instead of prison time.
Woulfe has no prior criminal history, and toxicology reports after the crash confirmed that he had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the collision.
The prosecutor pointed out that Woulfe was traveling at 83 mph at the time of the accident, 28 mph over the speed limit. Woulfe has been cited for excessive speeding in the past. In 2012, he was caught driving 91 mph in a 55-mph zone.
The location of the crash, the prosecutor argued, was in a rural area that is used by people hauling livestock and farmers on tractors.
“This is not an expressway or highway,” said the prosecutor.
Woulfe was initially issued a traffic citation, but in August 2017, shortly after the crash, that citation was dismissed. James Glasgow, Will County State’s Attorney, said a resolution in the traffic citation may have prompted double jeopardy issues if more serious charges are filed later on.
The lawsuit asks the county court to impose a judgment in excess of $50,000 against Woulfe plus legal costs.
The lawsuit states:
“By virtue of the wrongful death of decedent, Lindsey Schmidt, her heirs and next of kin sustained pecuniary loss and damage, including loss of decedent’s society and companionship.”
The lawsuit accuses Woulfe of: failing to keep a proper look out, failure to control his motor vehicle, failure to yield to the right of way, disobeying traffic signals and signs, operating his motor vehicle at an excessive rate of speed.
“Under Illinois law, certain surviving family members may be entitled to recover financial compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages that are caused by the wrongful death of a loved one,” says Gassman Legal, P.C..
A donation fund has been set up at First Community Bank and Trust for the Schmidt family.