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Kane County sued over fatal crash
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/17/2009 4:53 PM | Updated: 12/17/2009 4:54 PM

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Kane County is named as a defendant in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of a Marengo man killed last spring in a head-on crash in Sugar Grove Township.

The suit, filed this week in Kane County Circuit Court, blames sheriff's deputies for failing to arrest the other driver on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs during a traffic stop 15 minutes before the fatal collision.

The crash happened about 5:30 p.m. March 20 on Route 47 near Merrill Road, when a pickup truck driven by Linda L Knotts, 45, of Elburn crossed into oncoming traffic, police said. William McKenzie, 54, was killed when Knotts' truck slammed into his Ford van and then came to rest on top of it, according to police reports.

Authorities have confirmed Knotts was pulled over and ticketed just moments before the crash, after police received complaints that she was driving erratically and had passed southbound vehicles on Route 47's northbound shoulder.

On Thursday, Sheriff's Lt. Pat Gengler said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation. "But I can tell you the crash is still a pending investigation," he said.

Knotts, who has no published phone listing and no attorney listed in court records, could not be reached for comment. After the crash, she was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and driving in the wrong lane. But prosecutors dismissed the charges in April, pending further investigation.

At a May inquest, a coroner's jury ruled McKenzie's death a homicide, and blamed Knotts, after police testified about her driving. There was no mention of her driving under the influence.

"We have numerous people indicating Linda Knotts was driving recklessly," Investigator Sal Rodriguez testified in May. "I have interviewed Linda Knotts three times. Each and every time, it was a different account of what occurred just before the accident. I don't believe she ever gave a specific reason for why this occurred."

The lawsuit, which also names Knott as a defendant, seeks more than $50,000 in damages. It goes before Judge Judith M. Brawka on March 4.