A pregnant mother of three was killed Tuesday afternoon when a wheel hub came loose from a semitrailer on Interstate 80 near Joliet and smashed into the her SUV’s windshield.
About 2:20 p.m., the 2004 Volvo semi was headed east on I-80 pulling a Hyundai trailer when a wheel hub came off the trailer’s rear axel near Rowell Avenue and crossed over into the westbound lanes of traffic, according to Illinois State Police.
The lost hub collided with the windshield of a 2016 GMC Acadia as it headed west, killing the driver at the wheel, state police said.
She was identified as 38-year-old Melinda Cullen of Coal City, according to state police and the Will County Coroner’s Office.
Cullen was a mother to three daughters and was expecting her first son in April, a statement from the family read Wednesday. According to the family, the baby did not survive the crash.
"This tragic event has affected many, and we are reminded how Melinda always made special time for her family or anyone in need," the statement, given by a family spokesperson, said.
The driver of the semi, 59-year-old Antanas Sereiva of Bolingbrook, was charged with a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act for having unsafe equipment, state police said.
A wake for Cullen is scheduled for Friday and a funeral is expected on Saturday.
Police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash to call Illinois State Police District 5 at (815) 726-6377 ext. 288.