A Waukegan man is only a year older than the teenage pedestrian he allegedly hit and killed during a nighttime street race. Police north of Chicago tracked down and arrested an 18-year-old for the late March hit-and-run fatality.
Police reports said a 17-year-old high school student was struck while walking with a friend to a bowling alley. The boy apparently stepped into the road and the path of one of two drag racers. Neither of the car drivers stopped to aid the victim or take responsibility for the pedestrian accident.
Witness interviews helped investigators locate and arrest a suspect within a week of the Waukegan fatality. The teen driver was jailed on charges of reckless homicide, leaving a fatal accident scene and aggravated street racing. Bond was set at $200,000.
Authorities conducted tests with negative results for drug or alcohol use. The lapse between the accident and arrest was several days. Police would be hard-pressed to prove the hit-and-run suspect was impaired on the night of the accident.
The life of the young victim was celebrated by family and friends during a balloon launch on the shores of Lake Michigan. Family members have made plans to bury the teen in Mexico.
Some Illinois drivers may attribute the accident to immature teen behavior. Young people are not the only ones guilty of careless driving. Adults with years of road experience also commit negligent acts. Drivers of all ages can be guilty of distracted driving, speeding, illegal traffic maneuvers and drunk driving.
Injury accident survivors and families of victims may feel some closure when a criminal prosecution leads to a defendant's conviction and punishment. Criminal charges are not filed in every auto accident in which some is hurt or killed.
Civil courts address carelessness on a personal, financial level. Injury and wrongful death claims ensure victims receive fair compensation for the economic and emotional impact of negligence.
Source: suntimes.com, "Lighted balloon vigil for teen killed in Waukegan street racing accident," Frank Abderholden, March 29, 2013