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Chattanooga trucking company U.S. Xpress has been named a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of a nursing student killed last week in a southeast Georgia crash.

On April 22, a Total Transportation of Mississippi LLC truck reportedly ran into two cars of Georgia State University nursing students as all three vehicles traveled east on Interstate 16 in Ellabell, Ga., going toward Savannah.

Total Transportation is a subsidiary of U.S. Xpress. U.S. Xpress also owns Florida-based Arnold Transportation Services.

"Our primary concern is with the victims and their families," said Natalie Parker, director of communications at U.S. Xpress. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy."

She said the company can't comment on the pending litigation.

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A truck sits parked outside of the U.S. Xpress Enterprises building in Chattanooga in this 2011 file photo

Seven total vehicles were involved in the wreck which led to the current suit brought against U.S. Xpress, Total Transportation and Total Transportation's insurers.

Five of the nursing students involved -- including 21-year-old Abbie Lorene Deloach -- were killed in the accident. Deloach was riding in one of the cars when the accident happened.

Her mother, Kim Deloach McQuaig, on April 29 filed a wrongful death and survival action lawsuit in state court in Bryan County, Ga., the county where the wreck occurred.

The Total Transportation driver's name has not been released, and the driver is not named in McQuaig's suit, though the driver's actions are cited as the primary cause of the wreck.

"Suddenly, and without warning, Defendant Total Transportation's employee ran into the rear of the vehicle in which Abbie Lorene Deloach was a passenger," the lawsuit states.

The suit alleges that Total Transportation's driver "acted recklessly, carelessly, and with total disregard of the rights and safety of other persons using said highway" and that the driver "had the last clear chance to avoid said collision."

"Defendant Total Transportation's employee breached this duty by following too closely, failing to keep a proper lookout, driving at a speed greater than was reasonable and prudent under highway conditions and driving without regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing," according to the lawsuit.

Georgia State Patrol officials had not released an initial incident report as of the end of the week. According to wire reports, the State Patrol said it could be months before an investigation into the accident is complete.

McQuaig is suing for punitive damages equal to recovery of the 21-year-old's life, in addition to attorneys' fees and court costs.

McQuaig is also seeking "an appropriate sum in excess of $15,000 to compensate her" for injuries and damages.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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