KANKAKEE — A Bourbonnais man was found guilty of two misdemeanor traffic violations from a July 2018 two-car crash in which the driver of the other vehicle died of internal injuries later.
Austin P. O’Connor was charged with driving with no valid driver’s license and driving a vehicle with no insurance involved in an accident causing harm.
The 20-year-old O’Connor will be sentenced Nov. 26. Both offenses are punishable up to a year in county jail and $1,000 fine. He could also be sentenced to probation. He is represented by Kankakee attorney Patrick O’Brien.
Assistant State’s Attorney Val Gunderson prosecuted the case.
On Friday, 40 people attended the proceedings.
“My heart aches for Jodi’s family and friends. Far too many people are being killed on the roads of this county. Distracted and impaired driving are 100 percent preventable crimes,” Gunderson told the Daily Journal.
“I appreciate the hard work of Bourbonnais PD, Fire, Kankakee County Sheriff’s deputies and Illinois State Police reconstruction for their hard work on this case and continued efforts to protect the people of the county.”
The case was up for bench trial. Both sides agreed to stipulations that O’Connor was driving without a valid driver’s license and did not have insurance. They also agreed to the crash report and O’Connor’s certified driving record.
That meant Judge Thomas Cunnington would review all the evidence before making his decision.
According to investigators, O’Connor was northbound on Career Center Road when his vehicle crossed over the center line and crashed head-on into a southbound vehicle driven by 67-year-old Jo Ann “Jodi” Tvrz, of Bourbonnais.
O’Connor told investigators Tvrz’s vehicle had crossed into the northbound lane before returning to the southbound lane. O’Connor said he swerved to avoid a crash.
Cunnington read from the crash report Tvrz was alert at the scene. She told a witness the other driver (O’Connor) crossed the center line and hit her head-on. Tvrz had to be extricated from her car. O’Connor was transported to the hospital with an arm injury.
When charges were filed last year, State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said to file felony charges would require the offending driver to have been impaired, “and there is simply no evidence of that here,” he said.
Bourbonnais Deputy Police Chief Anderson said officers didn’t smell the odor of alcohol on O’Connor’s breath. Neither officers nor hospital personnel ordered blood and urine samples from either driver.