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Illinois driver in fatal holiday crash gets 8 years

A woman, who caused a Christmas Eve car crash last year that permanently disabled an Illinois man and killed his parents, will go to prison for eight years. Sentencing for charges surrounding the fatal car accident also requires the convicted driver to pay restitution of more than $72,000.

The accident happened last year in Effingham County on snow-covered Illinois 37. A woman headed from Chicago on a southbound holiday trip with two passengers exited the interstate near Watson. She apparently became lost. Court testimony says the confused driver slid into another vehicle on the slippery road as she attempted to find a route back to the highway.

The driver of the vehicle that was struck suffered disabling injuries. The man's passengers, his 65-year-old mother and 79-year-old father, were killed. The woman blamed for the accident and her passengers were hospitalized.

A hospital blood test showed the woman driver had been under the influence of cocaine at the time of the crash.

The suspect was still using the aid of a walker when an Effingham County Circuit Court judge sentenced her for aggravated driving with an unlawful substance, causing death. A plea deal reduced the Class 2 felony charges from two counts to one.

The eight-year sentence was slightly above the minimum sentencing guideline of six years, but far less than the maximum possible sentence of 28 years. A two-year probation period will follow the convicted woman's release from prison.

The public defender for the woman argued that the restitution payment of more than $72,000 plus court costs would be impossible for her jobless, 51-year-old client to pay.

The court deferred the restitution issue to a later time.

Source: effinghamdailynews.com, "Driver gets eight-years for crash that killed Edgewood couple," Cathy Thoele, Dec. 1, 2011

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