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Untreated diabetes blamed for University of Illinois fatality

Application forms for Illinois driver's licenses and renewals ask whether an individual has a known health problem that might keep him from operating a motor vehicle safely. Drivers with at least one episode of temporary lost consciousness in the previous six months are medically ineligible to drive without a physician or medical review board's clearance.

Champaign County police said a diabetic driver was responsible for an auto accident that killed a University of Illinois student and injured her friend in October. The 58-year-old driver skipped breakfast that morning. The diabetic, preoccupied with making applications to restore his driving privileges, had not driven in three years because of his medical condition.

Witnesses saw a truck moving erratically through traffic, more than a dozen blocks before the fatal pedestrian accident. Just before the crash, the truck sideswiped another vehicle, swerved off the road and struck a few signs. The vehicle rolled over a curb on the Urbana campus and into a pair of students, killing a 20-year-old woman. A second female student suffered a broken ankle.

Paramedics treated the driver for low blood sugar. A chemical test also revealed the truck driver had traces of marijuana's active ingredient, THC, in his system, leading to aggravated DUI and reckless homicide charges.

Prosecutors plan to use the uninsured driver's failure to manage his chronic diabetes as a key point at trial. A conviction for a single aggravated DUI felony charge could land the diabetic in prison up to 14 years.

Diabetics may suffer a dangerous medical episode behind the wheel unless insulin intake, blood sugar, seizures and other issues are monitored and controlled. Chicago residents permitted to drive with known health conditions are liable for harm, when they fail to follow a doctor's treatment. Something as simple as skipping a meal can lead to an auto accident and the preventable injuries or wrongful deaths of innocent people.

news-, "Criminal charges filed in fatal UI crash" Mary Schenk, Nov. 19, 2013

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