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updated: 3/10/2014 6:17 PM

Police: Drunken driver damaged Batavia cemetery

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  • Wayne Gullickson of Batavia's streets division cleans the area of debris after a family marker and two other headstones were damaged and a cypress tree was knocked over at West Side Cemetery by a car early Sunday morning. Gullickson and a co-worker chipped up the cypress earlier. Another tree was severely damaged and likely will be taken down.

       Wayne Gullickson of Batavia's streets division cleans the area of debris after a family marker and two other headstones were damaged and a cypress tree was knocked over at West Side Cemetery by a car early Sunday morning. Gullickson and a co-worker chipped up the cypress earlier. Another tree was severely damaged and likely will be taken down.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Batavia's West Side Cemetery has again been damaged by an out-of-control vehicle off Route 31.

Police said they arrested Algin Sanders, 29, of the 200 block of Mill Street at 2:02 a.m. Sunday. He is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Sanders was treated at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

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Police said he was driving a Pontiac G6 when it left the road and hit trees and three headstones. One tree was knocked down, and a second was so damaged it likely will have to be cut down, according to Batavia streets superintendent Scott Haines.

The lawn also was damaged. A large family marker was knocked off its base, and pieces of glass from the vehicle could be found at least 20 feet away.

The marker was for the Brandon family, including Rodney Brandon, the first superintendent of Mooseheart. Mayor Jeff Schielke believes the two trees were memorial gifts for the Brandon family.

"Hopefully, there is some insurance on the part of the driver," Schielke said.

In a May 2011 crash a man hit 12 headstones. An Elgin man was charged with reckless driving, improper lane use, driving without insurance and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. He was fined and sentenced to 250 hours of community service. The city incurred costs of $20,559, and the owners of the headstones had to pay to fix or replace theirs. The judge said state law prohibited her from ordering the driver to make restitution, since the charges were traffic violations. Among the headstones damaged in that crash were those of Schielke's parents.

Schielke said it is the third time he recalls in about five years the cemetery has been struck. "There's just been a bad set of circumstances," he said.

He has also instructed city workers to study what can be done to better secure the site, which is not fenced.

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