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Pittsburgh 3-year-old killed by speeding tractor trailer on I-95 in Georgia

A speeding tractor trailer crash on I-95 in Georgia rammed the rear of a Ross Township, Pennsylvania family’s van Sunday afternoon, killing a 3-year-old child.

Sean Thornton, the youngest of three children of Daniel and Susan Thornton, was killed in his child car seat when a big rig slammed into the rear of the family minivan and pushed it off the road into the woods. It came to rest in cold marsh water. The family was en route to a post-Christmas Florida vacation.

The child’s mother, Susan Thornton, 38, was driving. According to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, the impact badly mangled her foot and it may have to be amputated. The father, Daniel Thornton, 47, has a broken jaw. The five-year-old sister has a broken foot, leg and arm. An eight-year-old brother has a cracked skull.

According to Georgia State Patrol spokesman Thornell King, the Thornton family’s 2007 Toyota Sienna van had slowed due to traffic congestion when it was struck in the rear at a high rate of speed by the 1999 Freightliner tractor-trailer truck hauling a load of paper products, driven by Willie Hill, 50, of Jacksonville.

Hill reportedly had picked up a load at Riceboro, en route to Gulfport, Mississippi. Riceboro is the site of a large Interstate Paper plant producing linerboard.

Media reports show a double trailer in the woods. News reports do not identify the trucking company involved.

I bet the family has been directly solicited by lawyers trolling the hospital or sending them promotional packages, in direct violation of bar rules that would subject them to disbarment if reported.

Ken Shigley is a trucking safety trial attorney representing seriously injured people in tractor trailer, big rig, intermodal container freight, cement truck, dump truck and bus accidents statewide in Georgia. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute in 2005, is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, and is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.

He has extensive experience representing parties in interstate trucking collision cases, and in the past two years has spoken at national interstate trucking litigation seminars in Chicago (trucking insurance), New Orleans (trial tactics and side underride issues), St. Louis (punitive damages), San Francisco (dealing with insolvent trucking companies), Atlanta (trucking insurance, closing argument), Nashville (use of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), and Amelia Island (overview of trucking litigation).

A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). In addition to trucking litigation, he has broad experience in products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Treasurer and a candidate for President-Elect of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.