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State says Carbondale man left Wheaton crash victim to die

A downstate driver is charged with walking away from the scene of a fatal car accident in Wheaton, according to the DuPage County state attorney. The 21-year-old allegedly abandoned an injured and dying passenger and returned to a party where the two had been, without ever reporting the car accident.

A DuPage County Circuit Court will arraign the Carbondale suspect next month on a felony charge of failure to report an accident involving death. The accused is locked up in the county jail on $350,000 bail.

It took more than two years for state authorities and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to investigate what happened on Oct.5, 2009. State prosecutors claim the accused driver and an 18-year-old Wheaton teen were at a party and decided to leave together in the suspect's 1998 Volkswagen GTI. The Wheaton deputy police chief stated that the VW slammed into a tree off Durfee Road near Seneca Drive about 3:30 a.m.

State attorneys say the driver left the crash scene and the severely injured passenger without calling police or medical crews to the site. The teen passenger was reportedly alive, but in critical condition when emergency personnel found him. The accident victim died at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield later the same day.

Investigators claim the driver went back to the party he and the passenger had attended. The accused man apparently tried to mask his involvement in the fatal crash by telling other partygoers that his car had been stolen by the teen he left to die.

Authorities stated that they can prove the teenager who died in the crash was not behind the wheel when the VW hit the tree.

The suspect was arrested twice since last year, once by Lombard police in October 2010 and by College of DuPage police in March of this year. Charges are pending for several traffic infractions, including driving without insurance, and a drug paraphernalia possession charge.

A conviction on the felony charge could place the Carbondale man behind bars for up to 15 years.

Source: Naperville Sun, "Man left dying friend in wrecked car, returned to party: Berlin," Bill Bird, Dec. 23, 2011

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