A family friend of the truck driver who ran a stop sign, killing four Dubuque County teenagers, is asking people to look at the situation from the driver’s perspective. Suzette Smith told KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids that the back of a “no passing zone” sign blocks a driver’s view of the stop sign for several seconds.
“We really want people to know he wasn’t a young kid, just out on a Saturday afternoon who ran a stop sign. I think there is a side to it that maybe he didn’t have enough time to stop at the stop sign,” Smith said. The crash happened on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. near Epworth. The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department reports 24-year-old Joe Connelly ran a stop sign at the rural intersection and his pickup crashed into a utility vehicle carrying four 14-year-old boys; Mitchell Kluesner, Bryce Wilwert, Nicholas Kramer and Sean Kenneally. All four died.
KCRG-TV’s Katie Wiedemann went to the area to check out Smith’s claims. She noticed there’s a yellow “stop ahead” sign about 400 feet from the intersection and the red “stop” sign can been seen for the first time about 300 feet away. “But as a driver gets closer, that stop sign eclipses with the back of a “no passing zone’ sign. For about three seconds, the driver cannot see the stop sign,” Wiedemann said. “The stop sign comes back into view when the driver is about 100 feet from the intersection.”
Smith said she understands there was a visible “stop ahead” sign and Connelly did run the stop sign, so she understands Connelly will likely face charges. As for those charges, the Dubuque County Sheriff’s officials will only say they’re still investigating and won’t speculate when charges could be filed.