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updated: 10/19/2012 8:54 AM

Guilty plea in Lake Zurich car wash crash

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  • Thomas G. Murphy

      Thomas G. Murphy


A downstate man will go to prison for admitting he was under the influence of marijuana when he caused a crash that killed a woman as she was about to enter her vehicle at a Lake Zurich car wash in 2011, officials said.

Thomas G. Murphy, 40, of Cullom, received six years behind bars in exchange for pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence causing a death. Lake Zurich police announced the sentence after Murphy appeared in Lake County circuit court.

Prosecutors said Murphy was traveling at 67 mph in his 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and under the influence of pot when he slammed into Katharine Walker-Hoffman, 56, of Lake Barrington. The fatal crash occurred March 24, 2011.

Walker-Hoffman was struck as she was about enter her 2010 Volkswagen GTI after having it washed at a facility at Route 12 and Honey Lake Road, prosecutors said. Murphy was driving south on Route 12 when he left the road and went into the carwash's driveway, just past Paulus Park, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Murphy was driving so fast Walker-Hoffman had no time to react. After hitting Walker-Hoffman, authorities said, the Jeep crashed into a 2010 Acura sport-utility vehicle outside the car wash, causing minor injuries to two others.

Blood tests revealed Murphy was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash, police reports stated. Authorities said an ounce of marijuana was found in Murphy's Jeep after the collision.

Murphy told police he was in the area visiting relatives in Lake Zurich.

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