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UPDATED at 5:40 a.m. Wednesday with additional detail on visitation Thursday and corrected location of Wednesday's visitation.

TOWN AND COUNTRY • A motorist who was paralyzed in a massive pileup after a trucker reaching for a cell phone plowed into stopped traffic on Highway 40 in 2008 has died.

Mark Tiburzi, 55, of St. Peters, died Sunday of pneumonia, according to his wife, Cheri Tiburzi. She said the illness stemmed from injuries he suffered in the July 15, 2008, crash.

If authorities determine Tiburzi's death did result from the crash, the Alabama trucker who served a year in jail for three counts of manslaughter in the pileup could be back in court.

Tiburzi was rendered a quadriplegic after his car was rammed by the trucker on eastbound Highway 40 (Interstate 64), just west of Interstate 270. Three others died, and a dozen people were injured.

Tiburzi suffered severe brain injuries and never again walked, talked or ate on his own. He died of pneumonia Sunday at Garden View Care Center in O'Fallon, Mo., where he had been under constant care for years, his wife said.

"All I can say is, Mark put up a good fight for three years. We all did," Cheri Tiburzi said. "It was God's way. He's no longer in pain."

Jeffrey Knight, 50, pleaded guilty of three counts of involuntary manslaughter in April 2010. St. Louis County Circuit Judge Mark Seigel sentenced Knight to one year in jail for each of the three deaths — but overlapped the sentences to run concurrently. Knight was released from jail the next morning because the judge gave him credit for time he had already served in jail — 371 days.

He returned to Muscle Shoals, Ala.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis County medical examiner's office was requesting Tiburzi's hospital records before signing off on his death certificate. Robert McCulloch, prosecuting attorney of St. Louis County, said through a spokesman that he is waiting to see what the medical examiner says "and then we'll take appropriate action."

The day of the crash, Knight was driving a 2005 Freightliner loaded with 13 tons of scrap metal and had been on duty more than 86 hours in an eight-day period — 16 hours longer than federal law allowed, court records show. He'd been cited 41 times in three years for falsifying logbooks or similar violations, according to court records.

As he barreled east on Highway 40, passing Mason Road toward Interstate 270, he would have had a clear view of stopped traffic ahead, but he told police he didn't see it because he had reached across the dash for his cell phone and flipped it open. Black box information from Knight's truck showed he was traveling 65 mph before the crash, and he didn't slow down until ramming into traffic.

Killed instantly in the crash was Charles "Keith" Cason, 55, of Caseyville, whose Audi was hit first. Knight's Freightliner then hit a Toyota Camry driven by Tiburzi. The collision spun Tiburzi's vehicle, which stuck to the front of Knight's truck and acted as a battering ram as eight other vehicles were hit, including a van carrying several Amish Missourians. The Amish who died were Lydia Miller, 55, of Canton, Mo., and Alvin Mast, 88, of Kahoka, Mo.

About a dozen people were injured; Tiburzi was the most severely hurt.

NEW CHARGES?

It's not unheard of for authorities to reopen a case when there is a new death attributed to an old crime.

For example, McCulloch's office filed second-degree murder charges in 2008 against a babysitter more than a dozen years after she severely shook a baby.

The child, Kelsey McGinnis, was shaken in 1994 and, though severely injured, lived until 2007.

The babysitter had already served one year in prison after pleading guilty of assault in the case. But after Kelsey's death, prosecutors reopened the case and filed the murder charge. The babysitter eventually pleaded guilty of manslaughter.

The public defender who represented Knight, the truck driver, said Tuesday that she didn't want to speculate about whether he might face another charge now that another person has died. The attorney, Michelle Burriel, indicated that another charge in the case could be considered double jeopardy. Knight could not be reached for comment.

Cheri Tiburzi said she hadn't thought about whether she would want the truck driver to be charged in connection with her husband's death.

"He didn't mean to do it, although he did ruin my life and my husband's life," Tiburzi said. "I'd like to put it all behind me."

She said she wants to get through the funeral first, then might consult her lawyer.

"Now that my husband has passed, I want to let my husband go peacefully," she said.
 
Tiburzi was a district sales manager for Brown Shoe's Famous Footwear. On the day of the crash, he was on his way to the Brentwood Promenade from Chesterfield when he got stuck in traffic.

Over the years in the care center, Tiburzi would sometimes open his eyes and smile, but his wife said those around him never knew if he was aware of his surroundings.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two children and two grandchildren. Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Baue Funeral and Memorial Center, 3950 West Clay Street in St. Charles.

Additional visitation will be from 9:15 to 10 a.m. Thursday at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, 4112 McClay Road in St. Charles. A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the church.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This updated version corrects the location of Wednesday's visitation and adds a shorter visitation scheduled for Thursday.

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