A West Chicago man has been found guilty of driving off a St. Charles roadway while drunk and striking a tree that fell and severely injured a Geneva woman in early 2010.
A Kane County jury late on Tuesday found Donald E. Rericka Jr., 49, of the 29W block of Helen Avenue, guilty of one count of aggravated DUI, which carries a sentence of between one and 12 years in prison.
The victim of the crash, a Geneva woman who is now 50 years old, testified during the trial that she is still recovering from several severe injuries. She suffered bleeding on her brain, a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, a cracked sternum and a broken finger and continues to experience short-term memory loss and limited mobility, according to her testimony.
Police said Rericka was turning in downtown St. Charles about 2 a.m. on a Sunday in late January 2010 when he went off the road and nearly ran down a group of people on the sidewalk. Rericka's Chevrolet Silverado struck a tree, which snapped at the base and fell on the woman, knocking her head into a building.
Rericka refused a breath test at the scene, but St. Charles police for the first time in their history obtained a search warrant to draw blood from the man.
Four hours after the crash, a judge signed the warrant allowing police to draw the sample, which had a blood-alcohol concentration of .170, more than twice the legal limit.
At the time of the crash, the Kane County state's attorney's office lauded the St. Charles police for taking the extra steps when Rericka refused the breath test.
Rericka remains free on $3,000 bond, and as a condition of the bond he cannot possess or consume alcohol.
His sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 12 at 1:30 p.m.