A University of Illinois student from Chicago was killed and another student was injured when they were struck while walking on the Urbana-Champaign campus in October by a man driving a pickup truck. Both women were 20-year-old juniors at UI.
Witnesses say they saw the man driving erratically in the area before the truck accident. He reportedly went off the road, struck some street signs, sideswiped a UI truck and finally went up on a curb where he hit the two students. The Chicago woman succumbed to her injuries not long after being hit. The other woman suffered a broken ankle and had to undergo surgery to repair it.
The driver was found to have THC in his body. That is the active ingredient that is found in cannabis. A driver with any amount of THC is his or her system is considered to be driving under the influence in Illinois. The 58-year-old Urbana man was also treated at the scene for low blood sugar.
Reportedly the driver suffers from diabetes and had not driven in several years because of his condition. Ironically, he was supposedly going to get insurance, as well as license plates for his vehicle the day the accident occurred.
The driver was initially ticketed for not having insurance and improper lane use. However, according to the state’s attorney in Champaign County, he is now facing felony counts – two for aggravated DUI and one for reckless homicide. He could face anything from probation to 14 years behind bars for the DUI count involving the young woman who was killed, and up to 12 years for injuring the other woman. If found guilty of the reckless homicide charge, he could serve another five years.
According to State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, her office considered the driver’s medical condition before charging him with felonies. They found that such serious charges had been used in other cases where the driver’s actions were believed to be connected to a medical condition.
While this was a tragic accident for all concerned, it does not change the fact that this defendant was in no condition to drive. Like the prosecutors who are pursuing criminal charges, the families of the victims have every right to pursue civil damages against him for the misery he has caused them, no matter how unintended it may have been.
Source: The News-Gazette, “Criminal charges filed in fatal UI crash” Mary Schenk, Nov. 19, 2013
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Chicago woman struck, killed on University of Illinois campus