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updated: 10/23/2013 8:06 PM

DUI victim's mom forgives driver for fatal Addison crash

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  • Daniel Clark

      Daniel Clark

 

The mother of a man who was killed by a drunken driver last year on I-290 in Addison said at an emotional court hearing Wednesday that she was sentencing the defendant to "forgiveness."

"The judicial system will decide your legal sentence. God will decide your spiritual sentence. My sentence for you will be forgiveness," Mary Ann Caruso told Daniel Clark of Naperville.

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Clark, 34, had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal threshold and was driving 73 mph when his car struck a parked Illinois State Police cruiser blocking part of the expressway.

The crash happened early Feb. 11, 2012, after trooper Matthew Woodiel stopped near Mill Road to help Frank Caruso, whose vehicle had become disabled in an earlier accident.

Caruso, 42, of Brookfield, was warming up in the back of Woodiel's car when Clark rear-ended them at full speed, killing Caruso and seriously injuring the trooper.

At the opening of his sentencing hearing Wednesday in DuPage County, Clark wiped away tears after Caruso's mother spoke directly to him from the witness stand.

"I have no anger toward you, but anger that my son's life was taken by this tragic crime," she said. "I know through his good heart, his sentence would also be to forgive."

Her testimony came after prosecutors played a video of the crash, as captured by a camera mounted inside Woodiel's car. On the recording, Woodiel and Caruso could be heard speaking shortly before a loud screech, at which point the squad car spins into oncoming traffic.

Several drivers stopped and rushed to assist the trooper, who remained conscious despite suffering serious injuries. Caruso, who had become trapped in the back seat, was freed by fire crews and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Clark, formerly of Chicago, told police afterward that he had been drinking at a work function and didn't notice the cruiser's flashing lights until it was too late. At the time of impact, he also was talking to his then-fiancee using a hands-free cellphone device.

"He stated he was driving and the (squad) car just showed up -- he didn't see any flashing lights," Illinois State Police special agent Mary Murphy testified.

Clark, who has a prior conviction for impaired driving in Michigan, pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI and now faces up to 12 years in prison under a sentencing cap agreed to by prosecutors.

Judge Kathryn Creswell is expected to impose his sentence today.

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