Abels & Annes

Guilty finding in deadly Chicago hit and run accident

A former Chicago police detective has been convicted due to his involvement in a fatal DUI, hit and run accident that occurred in 2009, according to the Chicago Tribune. The wreck occurred on the Dan Ryan Expressway and two men were killed. A witness stated the defendant was traveling at a high rate of speed immediately before the accident occurred.

At the time of the crash the detective had been with the department for 18 years. He reportedly walked away from the accident scene as emergency workers were still frantically working to free two men that were trapped inside a burning car.

The two men that were killed in the accident were ages 23 and 21. The 21-year-old was a student at Depaul University.

The detective’s blood-alcohol content was reportedly three times the legal limit when he crashed his SUV into the victim’s car. He was charged with two counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

The judge noted that after the accident the defendant could have tried to help the victims but chose not to, and that it was a conscious decision. The judge convicted the defendant after a two-day bench trial.

The Tribune article says that the defendant tried to fight the charges that he fled the scene in an attempt to avoid a longer prison term. His attorneys stated he was disoriented after the crash and didn’t knowingly walk away. However, several emergency and hospital workers stated that the defendant initially denied his involvement in the accident. Prosecutors argued this showed that he clearly intended to flee the scene. The former detective was arrested after he walked to the area of Roosevelt Road and Clinton Street.

The defendant will be at home on electronic monitoring until his sentencing date. He could be sentenced to up to 31 years in prison. He was stripped of his police powers after the accident and resigned from his post last month. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Unfortunately, cases like this one are not unique in Illinois. As a Chicago car accident lawyer I can tell you that our office gets more and more calls about hit-and-run accidents each year. Rarely does a week go by where we are not working on this type of claim. (We unfortunately work on many DUI accident claims as well).

Whether someone flees the scene of the accident because they do not want to face the consequences (like the detective discussed above) or because they have no insurance to pay for the damage they have caused, this type of scenario is an ongoing problem in the Chicago area.

From a civil claim aspect, the best advice I can give is to make sure you protect yourself with a strong auto insurance policy of your own. You can no longer rely on the other person involved in an accident to have good insurance, as you cannot even rely on them staying at the scene of the accident.

Just in this past week alone, there has been two other deadly hit-and-run accidents in the Chicago area. In one accident, a motorist traveling at 50 mph over the speed limit struck and killed a man selling newspapers and then fled the scene.

In another accident, police are actively looking for a driver who struck and killed a six-year-old boy on Saturday night in the Northwest suburbs near Woodstock, Illinois. Anyone with information regarding the Woodstock accident are encouraged to contact the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.