Driver Sentenced to 15 years in Aurora DUI Crash that Killed 5 Teens

Sandra Vasquez, 26, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after the fatal drunk-driving crash in 2007 that left five Oswego teens dead and three others injured. The prison term means Vasquez, the mother of two young children, will have to spend at least 12 1/2 years behind bars.

Initially, Vazquez faced up to 28 years in prison. Her request for probation was denied by Kendall County Judge Clint Hull who instead imposed the prison term. The jury deliberated for nearly 12 hours over two days before convicting Vasquez of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI. During deliberations, jurors watched a videotaped interrogation of Vasquez in which she told police that she had several drinks prior to driving the teens home but insisted she was not drunk.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Vasquez was drunk and speeding when her car swerved off Illinois 31 at hit a utility pole in the far west suburb of Aurora. Killed in the crash were Katherine Merkel, 14; James McGee,14; Jessica Nutoni, 15; Tiffany Urso, 16; and Matthew Frank, 17. Vasquez and three other passengers were seriously injured but survived.

Vasquez had a BAC of .105 when blood test were performed after the crash. Her attorney had questioned the accuracy of the blood test, claiming that Vasquez’s liver was damaged in the crash. Challenging BAC results is a common effort of DUI defense attorneys under similar circumstances.

Driver gets 15 years in crash that killed 5 Oswego teens, www.suntimes.com, August 27, 2010

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