Trucker Sentenced in Hit-and-Run Accident That Killed 8-Year-Old Girl Near School Bus
Joplin, MO – The trucker involved in a hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of an 8-year-old Missouri girl in 2018 has been sentenced.
On June 15, Lance T. Lee, of DeKalb, IL, was sentenced to serve four years in prison after he pleaded guilty earlier this year to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.
Lee was behind-the-wheel of a 2017 Freightliner tractor-trailer on September 27, 2018, when he struck Destiny Chambers as she was crossing Newman Road just outside of Joplin at around 6:55 a.m.
Chambers was walking nearby her school bus when she was struck and killed.
Lee fled the scene and police pursued and apprehended him a short time later.
Lee first told his employer, USF Holland, he thought hit a deer on Interstate 44 near the 46 mile marker, authorities said.
He later allegedly admitted to being at the crash scene and told police he saw the school bus stopped on Sunny Slope Lane and thought he hit a mailbox.
During questioning Lee admitted he initially told his employer he hit a deer because he understood hitting a mailbox is a chargeable offense.
Lee also claimed he was unaware the semi he was driving struck a child.
He was subsequently charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident to which he pleaded not guilty.
However, he changed his plea in February of 2020 to guilty.
While Lee’s criminal proceeding has come to a resolution, civil litigation in the case is still pending.
In October of 2018, the Chambers family filed a wrongful death suit against the Joplin School District, Lee and USF Holland.
According to court documents, the suit alleges Lee drove at an excessive speed and “failed to keep a careful lookout.”
The suit also alleges Lee failed to apply his brakes or decrease his speed.
The complaint also takes aim at USF Holland alleging the company knew Lee was a reckless driver and failed to properly train him.
The case is still ongoing.