Family members of a man killed in a drunken driving crash in Addison said they felt some measure of closure Thursday after the driver who caused the accident was sentenced to a decade behind bars.
At the same time, they said they're praying for the defendant and his family.
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"This was not intentional," said Mary Ann Caruso, whose 42-year-old son, Frank Caruso, died in the Feb. 11, 2012, crash. "He didn't set out to kill my son."
The victim's mother commented just moments after she embraced the mother of Naperville resident Daniel Clark, 34, who pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI in the crash on I-290 near Mill Road.
She said she knew from looking into Clark's eyes as she publicly forgave him a day earlier that he was truly sorry.
"I could see the remorse, I could see the pain in his face," she said.
DuPage County Judge Kathryn Creswell handed down the 10-year term after a two-day sentencing hearing. She said Clark, who had a prior conviction for impaired driving, committed a "tragic" crime when he chose to drink and drive again.
"It was a very poor choice but not one motivated by malice or ill will," she said. "I believe (he) has an alcohol problem."
Caruso was killed as he tried to keep warm in the back seat of a state police cruiser that was blocking part of the expressway after an earlier accident disabled his vehicle.
Assistant State's Attorneys Shanti Kulkarni and Cathy DeLaMar said Clark had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal threshold and was driving more than 70 mph when he rear-ended the squad car, despite its flashing lights.
Caruso, of Brookfield, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead while Illinois State Police Trooper Matthew Woodiel, who had been in the front seat, was treated for serious injuries.
In a statement Thursday, Clark said that since the accident, "not a day has passed that I have not thought about what happened and the tragedy I brought about."
"Never in my life would I ever want to hurt anyone and here I did the worst possible thing: I killed someone and I seriously injured someone," he said. "I have caused immeasurable pain and suffering."
Defense attorney Jack Donahue called the case a "human tragedy." He described Clark as a hardworking professional with a heart for volunteering in his community and helping others whenever he could.
"It's tough to sentence good people under these really serious laws," he said.
Caruso's son, also named Frank, said the sentence "brought some closure," though it's been difficult living without his father while starting a family of his own.
"We'll move on and do our best," he said.
Caruso's sister, Anna Marie Caruso, said she hopes Clark gets help and uses the experience as a lesson for others.
"We never want to see people go to jail, but he needed to be held accountable," she said. "People can't just keep getting away with this."
By law, Clark must serve at least 8½ years before he's eligible for parole.