A Wayne man was spared prison Thursday for his role in a high-speed drunken driving crash that killed a fellow St. Charles East High School graduate and injured two other teens.
Onofrio J. Lorusso, 19, faced up to 14 years in prison, but was sentenced to three years of probation and 180 days in the Kane County jail.
In delivering the sentence, Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon cited "extraordinary circumstances," including Lorusso's open remorse and his recent speeches to schools about the dangers of drinking and driving.
"He does not deny what he did, like this court sees often," Sheldon said. "He stepped up and admitted his guilt." According to police, Lorusso was driving 70 mph or more with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit early June 14, 2009, when he lost control of his 2005 Ford Explorer on a residential street in St. Charles and crashed into a mailbox and two trees, killing front-seat passenger Cameron Godee, 17, of West Chicago.
He sobbed from the witness stand Thursday as he apologized to the Godee family and two back seat passengers who were also injured, one of them severely.
"I wish there was something I could do to take all of this back," Lorusso said. "I'm sorry I let you down."
The crash happened a week after both Lorusso and Godee graduated from East High School, and followed days of celebrating with alcohol at Godee's home while his parents were away, according to testimony.
Godee's mother, Mary Lynn Godee, said in a victim-impact statement that her family was given a "life sentence of loss and sadness" as a result of Lorusso's recklessness.
"Our son's life was taken away from us in a moment of sheer horror," she said, crying. "There is a void in our life that can never be made right."
Lorusso, a business major and hockey player at Robert Morris University, pleaded guilty in April to three counts of aggravated driving under the influence and one count of reckless homicide with no sentencing guarantees in place. He was free on bond until two weeks ago, when he was taken into custody to await sentencing.
Sheldon ordered Lorusso to spend 120 days in jail this year, with the remaining 60 days split over two summers, and to pay the Godee family $30,000 in restitution. The judge said Lorusso will receive credit for one day served in jail for every speech he gives about his experience.
Prosecutor Nemura Pencyla had asked that Lorusso be sentenced to 10 years in prison to "send a message" that impaired driving will not be tolerated in Kane County.
"Compassion for the defendant is no substitution for justice," he said.