Many parents in Southern Illinois and Missouri may be paying attention to the criminal case in Cook County, Illinois, involving a woman accused of killing a 9-year-old boy in a car vs. bicycle accident last spring. The woman, 23, pleaded not guilty to charges of felony aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death and a hearing was scheduled to take place today regarding a possible plea deal.
The accident took place in May when the woman allegedly hit a vehicle, and then lost control of her car. She then struck the boy, who was on the sidewalk on his bicycle, and dragged him for about 150 feet until she crashed into a parked car.
Blood tests revealed marijuana and amphetamines in the woman’s system. She reportedly admitted on the day of the crash that she had been smoking marijuana.
The woman was scheduled to announce whether she would take a plea deal today, but she did not do so and a judge decided to withdraw the plea offer. The case will now presumably head to trial, where a conviction could mean three to 14 years in prison.
A report in the Skokie Review states that the woman requested the boy’s family attend court today, likely to hear her answer to the plea bargain. The boy’s parents, who attended, called it a waste of time.
Criminal proceedings can, of course, be very difficult for the families of victims of fatal bicycle or car accidents. Nonetheless, both the criminal system and the civil system offer a way to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions.
In criminal cases, like that which we have discussed here, prosecutors are generally in charge of moving the case along and seeing to it that the driver pays for the crime to the extent possible. A civil case is very different in that it is initiated by family members themselves who choose to file a lawsuit against the driver for wrongful death. This is a way to seek additional justice as well as obtain compensation for funeral expenses, pain and suffering and other costs.
Of course, neither justice in criminal court nor in civil court can turn back the hands of time and even begin to lessen the emotional anguish associated with such a tragedy. These remedies are simply available to hold negligent drivers accountable and help families obtain as much justice as is possible.
Source: Skokie Review, “Plea offer withdrawn in fatal Skokie car crash case,” Mike Isaacs, Jan. 24, 2013
- Our law firm in Illinois helps the surviving family members of victims of fatal bicycle accidents and other motor vehicle collisions obtain compensation for their loss through wrongful death claims. We also work with those who have been injured in auto accidents to pursue personal injury lawsuits. More information is available on our website.