Preventing “ice missile” accidents: Can Springfield help?

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CHICAGO-- Some may call it a fluke. A freak accident. Others call it avoidable or an accident waiting to happen. Again-- ice missiles dropping at high speeds from truck tops as unsuspecting drivers find themselves helplessly in their wake.

Ask anyone who drives on the highway in the winter. The fast falling snow from trucks-- those near misses are a regular sight. It seems we've all had them, or at least watched them. But for two people here in the Chicago area. They want them to stop. They want lawmakers to be the ones to do it.

We want to warn you, some of the pictures here show just how graphic injuries can be.

You might find these drops, hits and near misses entertaining, but not if you are Bartlett resident Colleen Stutson or Pete Morano from Batavia. A block of mud and ice killed her 51-year-old husband Kevin in 2007. Police never did find the trucker responsible.

Pete Morano is lucky to be alive. In 2010, a passing truck dumped ice on his Cadillac Deville.

"Big chunks of ice came flying in all directions,” he said “Tremendous amount of snow.  All I could see was white."

Then all he could see was red.

Blood everywhere.

Glass and ice imbedded in his face shattering his nose and left orbital. Three surgeries later, doctors rebuilt his face but his vision in his left eye was lost. He manages the effects of traumatic brain injury every day. January 4th every year since, The Morano family celebrates.

“They treat it as a day with something to celebrate. I could've died. I could've become completely blind. It could've been so much worse."

While Colleen Stutson has never met Pete Morano, she feels a kinship with him. Three years earlier Colleen's husband Kevin, a truck driver for 20 years, was killed behind the wheel of his Pontiac Grand Am.

It was falling, ice and mud on a warm February day in 2007. Colleen says the accident feels like it was yesterday. She's becoming an advocate for drivers to help her through the pain.

"I don't think there's anything that will make it go away. I need to try to prevent this from happening to somebody else."

So for the past nine years she has been trying find out how many other people have died or been hit by falling debris, ice and snow. She's been reaching out to lawmakers, writing letters, and clipping articles.

One statistics says there are roughly 25,000 accidents reported each year. Close to a hundred deaths.

Enough to get legislators attention-- in other states anyway,

Stutson knows firsthand ice missiles can be killers. She wants to add Illinois to the map forcing fines on truckers who do not clear the roof tops of their cabs.

"Once it happened to me, that's when found out how common it is."

Sure there are devices on the market that can help: tools even automated removal systems, but is anybody using them when nobody here in Illinois is requiring it.

According to Illinois’ Transportation Committee Chairman, the state is looking into the issue.

But the Illinois Trucking Association says the current Illinois vehicle code already protects unsuspecting drivers making it a class-a misdemeanor

When a trucker's load drops, shifts, leaks or escapes--even if that load is snow or ice.

Little consolation for Colleen Stutson. Her husband was a 20 year veteran truck driver himself who maintained his rig well, she claims.  Yet the truck driver involved in Kevin’s death kept on driving.

"Something just keeps motivating me to want to get this done. You feel like you're so close, and you hate to let it go, but then there are other times you feel like you're not even being heard."

For Pete Morano, he wants to see what he calls a common sense law, too. Laws with fines and real penalties. Until it happens he says he's going to keep on living with gratitude for the second chance he wasn't sure he would ever get.

"I was always a very happy guy, I always thought positive and felt that I enjoyed life and appreciated life, but after something like this, it's impossible not to appreciate it more."