- Associated Press - Saturday, January 3, 2015

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - An Illinois man faces jail time later this month when he’s sentenced on misdemeanor convictions for causing a 2013 Iowa crash that killed a teenage girl.

Daniel Wayne Burnett Jr., 28, of Quincy, Illinois, was found guilty Friday of failure to display a slowmoving triangle on a vehicle and movement of an improperly equipped vehicle, the Burlington Hawk Eye reported (https://bit.ly/14kxboO ).

Investigators say Burnett was driving a tractor that was pulling a 30-foot-long manure auger the night of Oct. 12, 2013, on U.S. Highway 34 when the auger was rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle carrying 16-year-old Emma Ritchey of New London. A section of the auger pierced the SUV’s windshield, killing Ritchey instantly.

Several witnesses told investigators the manure pump was almost invisible in the darkness, and several drivers came within inches of hitting the auger in the minutes before the crash.

“The interview of (one couple) showed that they were also traveling west on U.S. 34 shortly before the accident and nearly ran into the back of the implement being driven by the defendant,” District Associate Judge Mark Kruse said in his ruling. “They gave consideration to going back and driving behind the implement with (their) flashers on.”

Burnett faces 30 days in jail and up to $625 in fines for each count when he’s sentenced on Jan. 23.

Burnett also faces a wrongful death lawsuit in the matter, filed by Ritchey’s mother, Bonnie Cooper. Burnett’s employer at the time of the crash and the maker of the auger are also named as defendants.

Cooper’s attorney, Danny Cornell, said it likely will be a year before the lawsuit goes to trial.


Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com



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