This blog has detailed numerous accounts of people making the appalling decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after they have had too much to drink – and the tragic drunk driver accidents which result all too often. When drunk drivers try to rationalize their behavior, their reasons usually ring hollow when you consider the destruction that these individuals can wreak while driving under the influence.
Which is why this story is so disturbing: it has been alleged that a drunk driver who killed a five-year old child was told by a police officer to get behind the wheel.Last Friday, a 24-year old Steger man was sentenced to 9 ½ years in prison in connection with the fatal crash that occurred in May of 2010. The man was reportedly driving a Chevy Cavalier at least 65 miles an hour across several lawns lining 34th Street in Steger. The car collided with a tree, killing a five-year old boy who was riding in the vehicle with him. The man’s blood alcohol level was subsequently tested to be .18, and he was convicted last February of aggravated driving under the influence.Here’s the unusual part of this case: prior to the crash, the Cavalier was being driven by the boy’s mother, and the man and the boy (who are unrelated) were passengers. But she was pulled over and then arrested by police for driving with a suspended license. A Chicago Heights police officer told the Steger man to drive the car away from the scene.This week, the mother told the media that she blames the officer for ordering the 24-year old man to drive drunk, and insisted that she told the cop that the man had been drinking. The officer involved says that there were no signs that the Steger man was impaired – and a jury agreed with the State’s assertion that the man responsible for the fatal accident.Wrongful Death LawsuiteIf the child’s biological father wished to file a wrongful death lawsuit, they would undoubtedly name the Steger man as a defendant – and he almost certainly would be held at least partially liable for the boy’s death. But if it can somehow be proven that the officer knowingly allowed the intoxicated man to drive – or a jury believes that the cop was negligent in making sure that the man was not drunk – then the Chicago Heights Police Department may also be forced to pay damages in any such lawsuit.