KANKAKEE — Samantha J. Alexander, of Bonfield, was charged with failure to report accident causing death or injury on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Alexander is accused in the hit-and-run accident in which 21-year-old Erica L. Paulissen, of Kankakee, was killed on Monday. Paulissen was pronounced dead at 12:33 p.m. at Riverside Medical Center.

Paulissen went to check the mailbox after returning from a trip when she was struck by Alexander’s vehicle.

The accident occurred at 1875 West 2000S Road at about noon.

Judge William Dickenson set Alexander’s bond at $75,000. Her next court date is Nov. 13.

If convicted of the felony charge, a person can receive a prison sentence between four and 15 years.

Exceptional person

Paulissen managed Dairy Queen’s Maple Street location in east Kankakee, as well as attending Governors State University.

Joe Rintelman, director of sales for the Noble family-owned Dairy Queen stores in Kankakee County, said the Maple Street location has been temporarily closed. Paulissen began working at the Maple Street DQ in October 2017.

“Erica had been with us a number of years. She worked her way up to store leadership,” he said. She remained manager even while attending Governors State University as a full-time student, where she was earning an accounting degree. She was expecting to have her degree in December 2020, Rintelman said.

“She was exceptionally bright. Exceptionally dedicated.”

Prior to GSU, Paulissen attended Kankakee Community College, where she earned her associate degree.

“Everything she did she approached with vigor,” Rintelman said. “This is a tremendous loss and not just for Dairy Queen, but for the entire community. She was not just exceptional as a manager, but as a person. If she chose to stay with us, she would have had a very bright future. She would have a very bright future wherever she decided to go.”

Rintelman said a meeting with the Maple Street staff was planned for today.

“We want to see how everyone is doing. We will respect the grieving process. Everyone is just in shock.”

The accident

According to Assistant State’s Attorney Erica Parsons reading from police reports, a driver was following Alexander westbound on 2000S Road.

The driver told investigators Alexander was driving recklessly.

The witness stopped to check on Paulissen after she was hit. He told investigators that Alexander turned left onto Illinois Route 115.

Based on evidence gathered at the scene by the Illinois State Police accident reconstruction unit, investigators were able to identify the make, model and year of the offending vehicle.

A deputy on patrol in the northwest portion of the county located a vehicle matching the description with damage to the right passenger side and windshield.

Parsons said Alexander told investigators she was on her way home from running errands.

Alexander told investigators she got home around 5 a.m. Monday after being in Joliet on Sunday and had not been asleep since Sunday.

Parsons said that Alexander told investigators she had smoked marijuana on Sunday and had taken five Xanax pills on Monday.

Alexander said she thought she sideswiped a mailbox.

Monday’s accident was the second hit-and-run fatal to occur in Kankakee County this year where the driver was charged with failure to report an accident causing death or injury.

The other occurred in the city of Kankakee.

Marquita R. Mack, 27, is accused of hitting and killing 51-year-old Donnie Ireland as he attempted to cross the four-lane East Court Street in the early morning hours on Aug. 17. Ireland was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another hit-and-run accident on Jan. 1 in Kankakee was ruled a homicide.

Anthony Stewart II, of Kankakee, was found laying in the road in the 200 block of North Chicago Avenue near East Oak Street at 1:38 a.m.

Warren Thomas Jr., of Kankakee, was charged with murder and is accused of deliberately running over Stewart. A second man, Rashagun M. Hale, of Kankakee, was arrested and charged with murder and reckless homicide.


Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is jbonty@daily-journal.com.