Prosecutors: Driver traveling 111 mph before crash that killed Aurora psychologist

Authorities allege that a former investigator for the Will County public defender's office drove at 111 mph while under the influence of PCP and other drugs before a fiery 2022 crash that killed an Aurora psychologist, court records state.

New details about the case against Maria Aiello, 47, of Joliet were revealed by prosecutors in their petition to keep her in jail on charges of reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence and unlawful possession of hydrocodone, which is an opioid pain reliever.

A judge may decide on Oct. 10 whether Aiello should remain in jail.

Aiello is charged with causing a March 15, 2022, crash at the intersection of Glenwood and Springfield avenues in Joliet that claimed the life of Ednalice Pagan-Romney, 50, of Aurora. She died inside a vehicle that was fully engulfed in fire, authorities say.

Pagan-Romney was the chief executive officer of Inspire Therapeutic Services, which had a location in Joliet. The company said in a Facebook post that she was the "pillar of the psychological community, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her."

Prosecutors said in a Sept. 18 petition that medical records show Aiello had PCP, THC, cocaine and opiates in her urine after the deadly crash. PCP, or phencyclidine, is a hallucinogenic drug. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana.

Will County Public Defender Michael Renzi said Thursday that Aiello submitted her resignation "quite some time ago."

Because of Aiello's professional ties to Will County, her case has been handed to Kankakee County Judge William Dickenson.

Before Sept. 18, Aiello would have needed to post 10% of her $500,000 bail to go free while awaiting trial. Now her attorney, Daniel Walsh, is requesting her release with the statewide elimination of cash bail.

Prosecutors are opposing Aiello's release. They argue Aiello is a "real and present threat to the physical safety of any person or person or the community."

After the deadly crash, a search warrant for Aiello's air bag control module showed she was traveling 111 mph about five seconds before the crash and not applying pressure to the brakes, prosecutors said. Data from the vehicle showed Aiello was traveling 110 mph or higher the entire time, prosecutors said.

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