LEXINGTON — A New Mexico semi-tractor truck driver has been charged with multiple violations in connection with an accident on Interstate 55 that claimed the life of a Chenoa woman Friday night.

In a report issued late Monday afternoon, Illinois State Police said a preliminary investigation showed that the truck driver, Robert Lee Fred Harris, 41, of Hobbs, New Mexico, experienced a blown tire on southbound I-55 around 6:14 p.m. Friday, and was slowing down on the right shoulder near Lexington. 

Police said that when Harris apparently realized there was an abandoned vehicle parked along the shoulder, he entered the interstate's right lane to get around the parked vehicle.

At that point, said ISP, the 2016 Dodge Charger being driven south by Kaitlyn Erdman, 25, struck the rear of the semi-trailer. Her car became lodged underneath the rear of the trailer, states the ISP report.

All southbound lanes of I-55 were closed after the crash and traffic was diverted to U.S. Route 66. Lanes were reopened around 10:47 p.m.

Erdman, who formerly lived in Bloomington, was in her third year of the nursing program at Unity Point Methodist Medical Center in Peoria. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:12 p.m. Her infant daughter, Tinley, was treated at a local hospital and released, said authorities.

Harris has been issued tickets for violation of minimum speed regulations, passing a vehicle on the shoulder of the road and driving with unsafe tires. The ISP report states that a 17-year-old female was a passenger in Hobbs' truck. She was taken to a local hospital, but the report does not indicate her condition. 

Erdman, who was wearing a seat belt, worked as an OB tech at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington. She was a graduate of Bloomington High School and recently won a McLean County Women of Distinction WINGS award from the YWCA that provides financial support to recipients to further their education.


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