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Truck Driver Who Killed Illinois Trooper Ruled An ‘Imminent Hazard’

Justin Wingerter
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Trooper Kyle Deatherage died Nov. 26 after being struck on I-55 by a semi truck.  He had been an Illinois State trooper since May 2009.

Trooper Kyle Deatherage died Nov. 26 after being struck on I-55 by a semi truck. He had been an Illinois State trooper since May 2009.

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LITCHFIELD, IL (KMOX) - A Georgia-based truck driver has been ruled an “imminent danger” and ordered to stop commercial driving after federal officials allege he didn’t disclose a medical condition which caused him to become unconscious at the time of an incident that killed an Illinois State Police trooper.

The “Imminent Hazard Operations Out-of-Service Order” was ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) against Johnny Felton, Jr. As a result, Felton must legally “cease all commercial vehicle driver operations” as a result of “his failure to exercise an appropriate duty of care to the motoring public regarding his medical conditions.”

Felton was a driver for DOT Transportation in Mt. Sterling, Illinois. The federal document ordering Felton to halt commercial driving has redacted his medical condition but says he informed a physician he didn’t suffer from the condition. He then later admitted that the condition caused him to lose consciousness while driving his tractor-trailer Nov. 26, striking and killing Trooper Kyle Deatherage as Deatherage made a traffic stop near Litchfield, Illinois.

According to the report, Illinois State Police found prescription medication for the undisclosed condition in Felton’s name in his tractor-trailer and “Felton’s current medical condition renders him unqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.”

“Felton’s failure to comply with the medical regulations and conditions of operation substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to Felton and to the motoring public,” the report said.

Mr. Felton will have to undergo a medical evaluation before the “Imminent Hazard Order” is lifted. Montgomery County State’s Attorney Chris Matoush said Tuesday that the investigation continues and charges are expected in ten to fourteen days.

“This case sends a clear message that we will use every tool at our disposal to identify and remove from our roads unsafe operators,” FMCSA administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a release. “Our agency is committed to raising the bar for commercial vehicle and driver safety.”

The order against Johnny Felton came just hours after the Government Accountability Office issued a report detailing how the medical conditions of truck drivers are often overlooked.

The GAO report found 204 drivers who suffer from epilepsy but have failed to report their condition to state officials. 31 of these drivers were involved in accidents. The GAO report also cited 23 cases in which state licensing agencies issued or renewed commercial drivers licenses for drivers “after they were diagnosed with epilepsy or had drug or alcohol dependence noted, which could also disqualify them from driving.”

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