Distracted DUI driver causes fatal Chicago crash on Memorial Day

A female motorist that was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on Monday lost control of her car and crashed, resulting in the death of a baby and injuring three other kids, according to the Chicago Tribune. She reportedly was picking up a chip when she lost control of her vehicle on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The DUI driver, 47-year-old woman who resides in the 5200 block of S. Paulina Street, is now facing reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence charges, both felonies. A judge set her bail at $350,000, according to a spokeswoman from the state’s attorney’s office. Prosecutors allege the defendants blood-alcohol level was .164, over twice the legal limit in Illinois.

The at fault driver had seven passengers in the 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass that she was driving. The accident took place around 6:30 PM on Memorial Day. The incident closed the expressway for around two hours, causing a significant holiday traffic on Monday night. The vehicle is only built to accommodate five occupants, so none of the children were in seatbelts or car seats at the time of the crash.

She stuck a guard rail in the area of 75th St., causing the vehicle to spin multiple times and roll over. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that children were ejected from the vehicle.

Investigating Illinois state troopers stated the driver smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot, glassy eyes. She also admitted that she drank a lot of beer at a barbecue, and there were several open cans of beer inside the vehicle. Witnesses also saw the car swerving.

An 11-month-old boy lost his life in the accident. He was just a week away from his first birthday.

Another passenger, an eight-year-old boy, is in critical condition with a lacerated liver. He was rushed by ambulance to University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. Two other passengers, a three-year-old girl and a four-year-old girl, sustained skull fractures. A six-year-old boy was also seriously hurt, but the nature of his injuries were not stated. All of the injured children were taken to Comer.

Two adults were also critically injured in the crash. One was taken by ambulance to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the other was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The Tribune further reports that according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, the DUI motorist at a good driving record and a valid license.

Is was not reported if an Illinois personal injury lawyer is involved in the case or if a negligence lawsuit is been filed.

While our hearts go out to the victims and their families in this accident, this is a good example of the dangers of distracted driving. It’s not just texting and cell phones that can cause a driver to take their eyes off the road. It can also be something as simple as leaning over to pick up food or coffee, or even adjusting the car stereo.

Illinois motorists should be aware that losing that fraction of a second of reaction time can be the difference between life and death. It’s better to wait until you are at a safer location.

Further, when you combine distracted driving with a motorist under the influence of alcohol, that is an especially dangerous combination.

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