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

Lance T. Lee

An Illinois man has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident in which his truck hit and killed a child as she was trying to board her school bus in east Joplin.

Lance T. Lee, of DeKalb, Illinois, entered his plea earlier this week in Jasper County Circuit Court, where it was accepted by Circuit Judge Gayle Crane, according to online court records. He was charged with one Class D felony count of leaving the scene of an accident that killed 8-year-old Destiny Chambers on Sept. 27, 2018.

Destiny died from injuries she sustained in the accident that occurred when she was struck by the truck while she tried to cross Newman Road to board a school bus. The Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested Lee in Strafford after locating him and his truck, which police said had a damaged front bumper and blood and clothing fibers in the grille.

Since the accident, a bus stop has been built at the intersection of Newman Road and Sunny Slope Lane, where Destiny was killed. The materials were donated and the stop was built by a neighbor.

A sentencing hearing for Lee is scheduled for April 13, and the defendant has requested a sentencing assessment report. The judge has ordered the report to be completed by the Board of Probation and Parole and submitted by March 30.

According to online court records, Lee's guilty plea "was an open plea with no plea agreement." Lee's attorney, Thomas Carver, could not immediately be reached Friday morning for comment at his Springfield law office.

Lee also is named as a defendant in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Destiny's father, Walter Chambers. Other defendants in the lawsuit are the Joplin School District, USF Holland LLC and the individual driving the Joplin school bus.

That lawsuit remains pending in Jasper County Circuit Court, with a trial date set for March 29, 2021.

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.

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