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Motorist accused of intoxication in fatal accident

A 58-year-old male motorist has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence following an accident in Urbana, Illinois, that ended the life of one University of Illinois student and injured a second. The driver remains incarcerated in the Champaign County Jail after his bond was set by a judge at $250,000. Police said that he drove his pickup truck in an erratic manner, and that he had cannabis metabolites in his body.

Police believe that the use of the drug lowered his blood sugar, causing him to drive in a reckless manner and to leave the road near the University of Illinois campus, hitting two female students who were pedestrians. Police reported that his truck went up on a curb before striking the students, causing the wrongful death and injury. The dead woman was a 20-year-old resident of Chicago and a junior majoring in agribusiness. The injured woman was also 20-years-old and a junior majoring in finance.

Blood testing was carried out because of the truck striking the women, and a police report indicates that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, was found in the driver's blood stream. If convicted of aggravated DUI for the death, the driver could be sentenced to as many as 14 years of incarceration. The second DUI charge, connected with the injury, could result in as many as 12 years in prison. Finally, on the reckless homicide charge, the driver could be incarcerated for as long as five years.

Any deaths or serious injuries in auto accidents are tragic, but perhaps especially so when the dead and injured are young students getting an education, who have not yet had the opportunities to launch their careers and lives. One family that had looked forward to attending a college graduation next year will now instead be visiting a grave site, while a second will be gathered around a hospital bed experiencing their young loved one's agonizing pain.

Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against reckless drivers on behalf of accident victims and their families can help cover the enormous costs of funeral and medical bills, as well as providing some small compensation for the gruesome pain and suffering. Hopefully, such lawsuits can also play a role in deterring others from callously driving in an impaired manner after abusing drugs or alcohol.

Source: news-gazette.com, "Driver charged with DUI, reckless homicide in campus crash" No author given, Dec. 09, 2013

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