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Truck-train crash survivor may get 10 years for DUI

A 40-year-old man admitted he had been drinking before the vehicle he was operating crashed into a train in Itasca. The drunk driving accident injured and later claimed the life of the man's 30-year-old girlfriend, a passenger sitting closest to the deadly impact of the moving train.

The fatal drunk driving accident in the early morning hours of July 3 had a witness. The observer stated the gates at the Rowling and Irving Park crossing were down when the truck slammed through them and into passing freight cars.

The witness stated it seemed that the truck gained speed on the approach to the railroad crossing, a statement that prosecutors backed up with mile-per-hour readings from the heavily-damaged truck's "black box." The truck hit a speed of 54 mph just before slamming through the crossing gate.

When emergency units arrived at the accident scene around 3:00 a.m., the driver's girlfriend was unconscious, but still alive. She died later of severe injuries, including head trauma, after being airlifted to Park Ridge Hospital.

The driver's blood-alcohol content was .15, nearly twice the state's legal intoxication limit. Investigators say the Carol Stream man exhibited physical signs of drunkenness and admitted to police he was too drunk to drive.

Prosecutors took the driver's guilty plea into consideration and recommended a prison sentence of 10 years instead of a possible 14-year term. Depending on a sentencing judge's findings, the sentence could be reduced to probation. The judge would have to rule the accident's circumstances were "extraordinary" to dismiss a prison term altogether.

A sentencing date will be decided in mid-February.

Source: dailyherald.com, "Carol Stream man pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed girlfriend," Josh Stockinger, Jan. 18, 2012

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