An Aurora, Illinois, teen has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in a violent car wreck that killed one of his friends. The 16-year-old was driving over 90 mph in an Aurora neighborhood last October with three friends when his car crashed into a home. One of the three passengers, a 15-year-old student at Aurora's Metea Valley High School, was thrown from the back seat of the car, and died from his injuries.
The tragic accident was the culmination of a series of bad decisions. The teen, who was just 15 at the time, took his father's car after he fell asleep, picked up three friends, and went joy-riding through the rainy residential streets. According to prosecutors, he had driven past a radar speed sign on one of the streets several times attempting to make it read 100 mph when he lost control of the car on Stonebridge Road. The Chevrolet Malibu hit a curb and rolled over, striking a house.
Although the driver was initially charged as an adult, his attorney reached a deal with prosecutors to move the case to juvenile court. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, and will be on probation until he reaches 21. If he has any further run-ins with the law during that time, he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison. If he stays out of trouble, he will not face prison time for the accident.
The DuPage County judge who sentenced the teen gave him some advice. He said that he knew the young man felt guilt over the death of his friend, and was afraid that he might intentionally do something to violate his probation so that he would end up in prison. However, he advised him that the best way to honor his friend and to help others was to complete his probation and community service successfully.
It was not reported whether the victim's family is taking any civil action against the young man or his family. There are no doubt widely-differing opinions on whether 200 hours of community service and five years of probation constitute a harsh enough penalty. Regardless of the legal and civil penalties, however, this young man still faces a life sentence of regret.
Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Aurora teen gets probation, community service in crash that killed friend" Clifford Ward, Sep. 04, 2013