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Family of Florida man killed in I-57 crash suing trucker

Sun-Times file photo

The family of a man killed in a crash last week on Interstate 57 near south suburban Manteno is suing the tractor trailer driver who slammed into the back of the car he was riding in.

Jake H. Hemrick, 26, of Tampa, Florida, was a front-seat passenger in a Toyota car traveling south shortly after 1 p.m. Sept. 20 on I-57 in Kankakee County, according to Illinois State Police.

The Toyota was driving behind a 2016 Freightliner tractor trailer when both vehicles slowed down ahead of a construction zone, state police said. A 2010 International tractor trailer driving behind the Toyota failed to slow and slammed into the back of the car, pushing it into the trailer in front of it.

Hemrick was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. A 24-year-old Florida woman in the Toyota’s back seat died later that night at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, and the Toyota’s driver, a 38-year-old Florida woman, suffered life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the International truck, a 68-year-old Carendon Hills man, was citied for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, police said.

James Hemrick filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of Jake Hemrick Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court. The suit accuses the driver of negligence and also seeks damages from his employer, National Carriers of America, Inc.

The suit claims the driver was driving too fast and didn’t maintain a safe distance between his truck and the Toyota.

The suit seeks more than $100,000.

National Carriers of America did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.