Boy killed in Chicago car accident after police hand keys to drunk driver

The alleged drunk driver who killed a 5-year-old boy in a Chicago car accident, was given the keys to the vehicle by police less than an hour before he slammed into a tree with the child sleeping in the back seat, the Breaking News Center reported.

Chicago Heights police took the man’s girlfriend into custody for driving without a license before reportedly handing him the keys and allowing him to drive away in the 1998 Chevy Cavalier. Forty minutes later, he veered off Steger Road and slammed into a tree, killing the child.

Police say he had marijuana in his system and a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit. He was charged with felony driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless homicide.

Family and friends say the boy’s mother had been the designated driver. Friends say the defendant had spent most of Sunday night drinking before being joined by his girlfriend and her son.

The couple left the party at a friend’s house shortly after 2 a.m. The girlfriend was stopped at 2:35 a.m. after police report she made an improper turn without a signal. The officer arrested her for driving on a suspended license and handed the vehicle and her son over to the defendant, according to the Chicago Heights police chief.

Police report the vehicle was registered to him and he had a valid driver’s license. The chief said the officer did not detect any signs that the man was intoxicated. He was about half a mile from his house, and just 2 1/2 miles from where police gave him the car, when he drove off the road and into the tree. The accident happened about 3:15 a.m., about the time the child’s mother was being processed and released from custody.

The officer who made the stop had been on the force for two years.

WGN-TV reports on the story.

Click here to read the report from NBC Chicago.

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