Last month, a 9-year-old boy was out for a pleasant afternoon bicycle ride in Skokie, Illinois. He was on the sidewalk, apparently safe from the dangers of passing traffic. Then an out of control car came careening towards him. That car was driven by a 23-year-old woman who had previously been convicted of unlawfully possessing marijuana.
On that day, she had just left work with what police-administered tests would later reveal to be amphetamines and marijuana in her system. She then entered an intersection in Skokie, colliding with a van. The impact of the car accident sent her vehicle rotating onto the sidewalk where the boy was pedaling. Her car struck the boy's bicycle, forcing it into an unoccupied car parked along the street. The boy, only a student in the second grade, did not survive the crash.
Last week, a grand jury moved to indict the woman for her actions that day. Prosecutors have formally charged her with driving under the influence of drugs, a misdemeanor crime, and aggravated driving under the influence, death resulting. The latter charge is a felony and could leave the woman with a significant term of incarceration if she is found guilty.
The devastation that a family feels at the loss of a loved one is unlikely ever to go away. But perhaps some of the grief and sorrow that survivors feel can be assuaged by knowing justice has been done. Where crimes are involved, the state will attempt to seek justice through earning convictions, but family members can also seek justice by holding the negligent parties responsible through a civil suit.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Woman indicted in Skokie crash that killed boy, 9, riding his bike," Brian L. Cox, June 21, 2012.