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posted: 5/7/2013 4:15 PM

Sycamore man charged in crash that killed boy, 11

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  • Benjamin J. Black

    Benjamin J. Black


A 28-year-old Sycamore man faces felony charges that he had heroin in his system when he rear-ended another car Feb. 27 in Virgil Township, killing an 11-year-old boy.

Benjamin J. Black, of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive, is charged with aggravated DUI and, if found guilty, faces up to 14 years in prison after tests showed he had drugs in his system, authorities said.

"The investigation has been ongoing since the accident. Yesterday, we felt charges were appropriate," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday.

Matthew Ranken, a Sycamore boy who was a back seat passenger in a 1999 Chevy Cavalier, died after the vehicle was struck about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 while stopped along Route 64 in western Kane County.

Teal Noble, 18, of Sycamore, who was a front seat passenger in the Cavalier, also sustained a fractured skull from the impact. Black was driving a 1999 Ford Expedition west on Route 64, police said.

After the crash, Black was issued traffic citations for failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash and driving without insurance.

Authorities took a urine sample after the crash and a laboratory analysis found that heroin metabolites were present, prosecutors said.

The state's Supreme Court has ruled people with any illegal substances in their systems are automatically considered impaired and criminally responsible if there is a motor vehicle crash. The state does not have to prove impairment.

Last year, an Aurora woman who testified that she smoked marijuana two days before rear ending a car in May 2009 -- killing a St. Charles couple and injuring 12 motorcyclists -- was sentenced to seven years in prison after she pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI.

Police reports at the time indicated there was no evidence that Alia Bernard, 28, was impaired at the time of the crash, according to court documents. A judge later reduced the sentence to six years.

Black also is charged with two more counts of felony aggravated DUI for injuring Noble and driving without insurance. Black was being held on $250,000 bail. He is next due in court Thursday.

Black also faces two felony theft charges in DeKalb County for a March 11 arrest, records show.

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