Channick family settles lawsuit for $1.25 million

By Melissa Silverberg

A lawsuit surrounding the death of an 18-year-old University student who was hit by an MTD bus in 2005 was settled out of court Friday, on the eve of the trial, for $1.25 million.

Although three years have passed since Sarah Channick, then a University freshman, was struck and killed by a 22 Illini bus, the tragedy of her death has not been forgotten.

“Although no amount of money can heal the pain Sarah’s family has experienced, this settlement will help them move on and try to put this terrible tragedy in the past,” said attorney Jeffrey J. Kroll, who represented the plaintiffs for Clifford Law Offices, according to a press release from the Champaign Circuit Court.

Channick, a freshman in LAS, was hit and killed by a 22 Illini bus at the intersection of Sixth Street and Chalmers Street on Sept. 29, 2005, according to the release.

Her father, Bob Channick, said she was walking home from studying, crossing a crosswalk in the middle of the afternoon and doing everything right when she was hit.

Messages left for the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District were not returned on Monday.

Channick remembered his daughter as a vibrant, wonderful person and said he still is not really able to get his head around the tragedy.

“She was in a place she thought she would be safe,” he said.

Kroll said although the parties agreed to settle in mid-November, it was finalized in the Champaign Circuit Court on Friday.

“This was the only way to hold the bus company accountable,” Channick said. “It’s really as simple as that.”

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District accepted responsibility for Channick’s death early in court proceedings, according to the release.

“While it’s too late to save Sarah, if it saves another family from this terrible tragedy, then the lawsuit will accomplish one of its goals,” Kroll said.

Kroll said the Channick family decided to sue because they knew their daughter did nothing wrong and because they did not want the same thing to happen to another family.

“One of the things a lawsuit can do is promote change,” he said.

Kroll said he believes this lawsuit will encourage transit authorities to increase driver training and measures to keep pedestrians safe.

In the time since the accident, there have been changes to the intersection. He added that the intersection is now safer for pedestrians and that the MTD has made changes to its training and job experience requirements.

Channick added that there could never be too much done to ensure student safety.

“Whatever changes have been made, it’s too little and too late to help us,” Channick said.

“But it is of the utmost importance that they do everything in their power to make sure they never allow that to happen again.”

Channick chose not to comment on the monetary amount specified in the settlement.

“Nothing will ever make this right,” Channick said. “There’s never closure when you lose a child.”