Suit filed against truck driver, employer in death of 8-year-old girl

Lance T. Lee

The family of an 8-year-old girl who was killed last week when she was hit by a tractor-trailer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and the trucking company.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court by Walter Chambers, the father of Destiny Chambers. The child was killed about 7 a.m. Sept. 27 when she was hit as she crossed Newman Road just east of the Joplin city limits to board a school bus. The driver, Lance T. Lee, 49, of DeKalb, Illinois, who told authorities he thought he had hit a mailbox and kept on going, was arrested about noon by authorities at Strafford, in Greene County.

The lawsuit names Lee and his employer, USF Holland LLC. The suit alleges that Lee drove at an excessive speed and "failed to keep a careful lookout." The suit also says that Lee failed to apply his brakes or decrease his speed.

USF Holland, according to the lawsuit, knew that Lee was a careless and reckless driver, failed to properly train Lee and did not enforce safe driving rules and regulations. Chambers is also suing the freight broker and equipment owner, whose identities were not known at time of the filing, according to the petition.

Lee was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident and was being held in the Jasper County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond. Lee pleaded not guilty Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court and has a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 31. He also has a bond reduction hearing set for Wednesday.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol found Lee in Strafford at a freight company, and matched a section of bumper that was found at the scene of the accident to damage on the truck.

Lee initially told police that he hit a deer on Interstate 44 but then admitted to being at the scene of the accident and told police he thought he hit a mailbox. Lee also told police that he told his trucking company he hit a deer because hitting a mailbox was a chargeable accident and he would have lost time.

Reporter

Tyler covers Jasper County, which includes the Carthage City Council, Jasper County Commission and anything in between. Tyler can be reached at twornell@joplinglobe.com or 417.627.7258.

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