The wife of a Chicago Public Schools high school teacher who was fatally struck by a semi after helping a woman and her young daughter to safety following a Tri-State Tollway crash last month has filed a lawsuit against the trucking and distribution companies that operated the truck.
Jeffery R. Komada, 54, died after the chain-reaction crash that happened about 10 a.m. April 30 on southbound I-294 near Touhy in Des Plaines, Illinois State Police said at the time.
Komada — the director of the technology department at Taft High School, 6350 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. — was at the wheel of an SUV that slammed into the back of a minivan that had stalled out in the middle lane of traffic. Another car then rear-ended his vehicle, state police said.
Komada helped a 38-year-old woman and her 4-year-old daughter from the car into his SUV to drive onto the shoulder, police said. After moving them to safety, he went back outside and was struck by a semi, police said.
The Des Plaines resident was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he later died, authorities said.
The driver of the semi stayed at the scene, and no charges or citations were issued in the days following the crash, police said.
Cathy Komada filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Thursday on behalf of her husband against Xtra Lease and AJF Warehouse Distributors, claiming the driver failed to keep a proper lookout and was driving too fast for conditions. Representatives for the companies could not immediately be reached for comment.
Komada is survived by his wife and two adult daughters, according to the two-count suit, which seeks more than $100,000 in damages.
“[He] was an esteemed colleague and he was a friend to everyone in the building,” Taft principal Mark Grishaber said of Komada, who was named an “Educator of the Year” at Taft in 2015. “He was one of the kindest people I have ever met. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”