There’s an old saying about law enforcement agencies which goes like this: “There’s one thing that police hate more than an unsolved case: a case which goes from ‘closed’ to unsolved.” The gist of the statement is that police departments are not exactly tripping over themselves to reopen old cases that were once closed; because the greater amount of time that has passed since an incident, the harder it is to investigate.So it can be inferred that authorities might choose to reopen a closed case only if they have a good reason to do so – meaning they have very strong evidence in their possession. That may be what is happening with the Wheaton Police Department as they reopen the case of a fatal car crash which occurred back in 2009.Early on the morning of October 5 of that year, a 1998 Volkswagen GTI ran off the pavement on Dufree Road and crashed into a tree. About 5am, an 18-year old Wheaton man was found alone and unconscious in the car. He died about 12 hours later in a hospital from severe head trauma.This week, Wheaton Police arrested the person in whose name the car was registered. The now-21-year old man, who is a student at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, was charged Tuesday with leaving the scene of an accident. Authorities are alleging that the suspect was the person behind the wheel at the time of the crash. There’s no word on what the precise evidence was that Wheaton Police may have uncovered which led them to this conclusion, nor was it exactly clear why the man wasn’t arrested until now.In addition to the drama which may play out in criminal court, this development has ramifications for a civil lawsuit as well. Presumably, the family of the accident victim had believed that he was driving the car when he died. However, if it becomes apparent that the suspect was in fact behind the wheel, then the family may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against him (since Illinois law says that drivers are duty-bound to protect the safety of their passengers).But there’s one problem: the two-year statute of limitations for filing this type of lawsuit has passed, since the crash occurred over 26 months ago. So if the family of the deceased were to pursue civil legal action, they would first have to petition the court for an extension of the statute of limitations based on the new knowledge discovered by authorities about the suspect’s involvement. Although the plaintiff’s attorney would have a sound argument for this request, it would still have to be approved by a judge before a wrongful death lawsuit could proceed.