Carol Stream Police Sgt. Bryan Pece, who faces charges of driving under the influence after an off-duty traffic accident last May 5 that left him unable to return to work, has been awarded non-duty related disability leave.
The Carol Stream Police Pension Fund Board voted unanimously Thursday to award monthly disability payments of $4,507.17 to Pece. Pece applied for the disability leave in May, the day after authorities said he was drunk when his vehicle rear-ended an SUV at the intersection of Army Trail and County Farm roads in Hanover Park.
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The accident left Pece, a 22-year member of the force, with a broken vertebrae in the back, several broken ribs, torn ligaments in his knee, a dislocated hip and broken pelvis.
Three doctors chosen by the board all certified Pece as disabled and physically unable to return to work.
"He's disabled, the doctors that we sent him to all unanimously said that he's disabled," said John Numrich, the board president. "We went with the doctor's decision. The nature of the accident did not factor into the decision. It has nothing to do with it."
Pece, 43, was set to return to work after being off for roughly six months as a result of injuries suffered while on duty, but was involved in the accident the night before and faces one misdemeanor count of DUI. If convicted he could be fired, but to this point Pece hasn't faced any disciplinary action.
He is due in court again March 4.
Following the accident Pece used up all his accrued paid leave time, which ran out on Jan. 3. His disability payments will be effective Jan. 4.
Pece, unable to sit for extended periods of time during Thursday's hearing, said that he has been undergoing physical therapy twice a week and is on a series of pain and anxiety drugs for his condition.
"At this point I can't do a lot of the physical things necessary for the job such as running, sitting in a car for long periods of time, I can't fight with anybody if that was required because my leg is so weak," Pece said. "I don't think it's possible (to return), I truly don't."
Pece declined comment on the board's ruling.
"I have no comment, other than to say he got exactly what he deserved," said Richard Blass, Pece's attorney.
Pece joined the Carol Stream police in 1991, working his way up to sergeant 10 years ago. Under terms of the disability he is required to have a medical examination every year until age 50 to determine if he is physically able to return to work.
His disability application is only the second one the pension board has received from a sworn officer in several years, said Numrich, a former Carol Stream police chief. The pension board, established in 1972, includes two active-duty officers, two civilians appointed by Village President Frank Saverino and one retiree.