Family of St. Charles motorcyclist killed in Elgin crash sues truck driver, company

The family of a 25-year-old St. Charles man killed when his motorcycle collided with a semi-truck last summer south of Elgin has filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer.

Jordan Hale, 25, was riding his 2002 Suzuki SV650S motorcycle north on Route 25 when a southbound 1995 Ford L-Series truck, driven by David Odman for Welch Brothers Belvidere Inc., turned left in front of Hale, cutting him off, according to the lawsuit and crash reports.

The lawsuit alleges that while turning left across traffic onto Graham Street, Odman violated Illinois law by failing to yield to the oncoming motorcycle; that he failed to maintain control of his own vehicle to avoid colliding with another; that he proceeded at a speed greater than was reasonable given the traffic conditions and failed to keep and maintain a proper lookout.

“The family is entitled to answers about why this truck driver was driving carelessly and negligently,” said their lawyer, Tim Cavanagh.

The suit asks for a judgment “in excess of the minimum jurisdictional amount,” plus the cost of the lawsuit. In this case, that’s in excess of $50,000, plus the lawsuit costs, Cavanagh said.

The lawyer representing Odman and the Welch Brothers has not returned a phone message seeking comment.

Odman said he’d been slowing to a stop at Graham Street, preparing to turn left, when he saw the motorcycle traveling toward him at about 2:46 p.m. July 8, according to crash reports provided to the Beacon-News by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

Odman said he thought the motorcycle flashed its lights and slowed to allow the truck to continue its left turn, so he proceeded into the intersection, according to the reports.

The truck driver saw Hale skid and slide off his motorcycle, then stopped to provide assistance, he told the officer taking the report.

Several witnesses said they saw the motorcycle improperly pass in the shoulder, exceeding the speed limit northbound, before the truck turned eastbound in front of it, according to reports. Hale lost control of the motorcycle, which skidded and was run over by the rear passenger tires of the truck, according to the reports.

South Elgin medics transported Hale to Presence St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elgin, where he was pronounced dead, according to crash reports, which also note that medics took Odman to Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, but do not describe any injuries.

Court records show that Odman was cited for making an improper left turn after the investigation was completed in October. His next court appearance in the traffic case is April 19 in Kane County.

Cavanagh said it was ridiculous to think Hale was trying to signal for Odman to turn left in front of him.

“He obviously knew Jordan (Hale) had the right of way,” Cavanagh said. “No motorcyclist ever signals a driver to pull a left in front of them with their headlights. That’s absurd.”

Bill Hale, Jordan’s father, said approaching eight months later, the family is still struggling to cope with his loss.

At the bottom of Hale’s casket was a drawer, where family and friends could leave notes for him, Hale said.

“I couldn’t have loved you more,” Hale recalled writing. “There is a hole in my heart that won’t be filled until I see you again.”

The youngest of three brothers, Jordan loved animals and had a track record of sticking up for others, Hale said.

Once, at a state park, Jordan fought off some other boys who were attacking a cat and wouldn’t stop when he asked, his dad said. At Jordan’s visitation, a young man Hale didn’t recognize told him that in junior high, when other kids would pick on him for being a goth, Jordan would walk over and defend him, Hale said.

At the St. Charles funeral home where Jordan’s visitation was held, there was an hour and a half wait to get in, but people waited outside in the heat, Hale said.

“I had no clue how many people’s lives he had touched,” Hale said. “I was blown away.”

When Hale went to the home Jordan had shared with his girlfriend of seven years to get a pair of Dockers for his son to be buried in, a calendar on the wall caught his eye.

It was a bank calendar, with pretty pictures at the top and dates at the bottom.

Over lunch a few weeks before, Jordan had told his father of a trip the couple had planned, their first big vacation together. It was coming up, and they’d been counting down, marking off the days with an X in sharpie.

“When I saw that, I just broke down,” Hale said. “I want him back, but I’m not going to get that.”

This article was first published by The Chicago Tribune.

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