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Suburban Chicago police say DUI caused teen passenger's death

Discouragement and anger are common feelings among accident victims and families who have lost relatives in motor vehicle crashes. Emotions are strained to the breaking point when accident investigations reveal injuries and fatalities that could have been prevented.

An Illinois drunk driving accident is negligence that did not have to happen.

A suburban Chicago man was recently jailed on charges he was drunk behind the wheel during a nighttime SUV crash. A teenage passenger in the suspect’s Ford Explorer died in the single-vehicle auto accident just outside Wheaton.

DuPage County officials said the 31-year-old driver was intoxicated when he drove off the road and overturned the SUV. The girl who died from crash injuries was an 18—year--old student at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. The accused man was hospitalized with undisclosed injuries.

Police said they were familiar with the suburban man. The Warrenville man had his license suspended a decade ago for failure to acquire high--risk auto insurance. He was caught driving with a suspended license twice between 2009 and 2011.

Public records said the jailed man’s license was reinstated only a month before the rollover fatality. Officials charged the suspect with double counts of DUI causing death. The driver was jailed on $1 million bail.

The “kindhearted” high school student was killed just before graduation, a month after she took a job tending animals at a Carol Stream kennel.

Many parents file wrongful death claims following the death of a minor child caused by a defendant’s acts of negligence. The Wheaton accident victim had reached the age of majority. Illinois law allows parents to become plaintiffs in wrongful death actions, even when a child dies in adulthood, provided the child did not have a spouse.

Extraordinary grief might be among the claims the parents could make before a civil court. A jury could also decide to compensate the parents for the teen’s future lost earnings.

Source:  chicagotribune.com, "Driver charged with DUI in DuPage crash that killed teen" Apr. 22, 2013

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