Geneva man pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed two in Naperville
A Geneva man pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges from a fatal DUI crash last year in Naperville -- a tragedy that spurred the city's crackdown on late-night drinking in its downtown taverns.
Michael Szot, 22, of the 2600 block of Chatham Court in Geneva, faces 6 to 28 years in prison for causing the accident that killed two of his friends. He pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated DUI causing death, and will be sentenced this fall.
About 1:45 a.m. on July 19, 2014, Szot was westbound on Aurora Avenue in Naperville with two friends in his car, prosecutors said. As Szot approached the southwest curve of Aurora Avenue near Eagle Street, his car left the road and plunged into Quarry Lake.
Szot escaped from the submerged car, and police soon arrived and took him into custody. Divers discovered the bodies of Sajaad Syed and Mihirtej Boddupalli, both 21, still in the car at the bottom of the lake.
Prosecutors said Szot, the former co-president of Geneva High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions organization, had a blood alcohol content of .142 after the crash. Szot had also admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that day and had a marijuana pipe in his pocket.
Prosecutors alleged Szot had as many as nine beers and rum shots at downtown Naperville bars prior to the crash. That tragedy, in addition to the 2012 stabbing murder of a Naperville teacher at a downtown bar, led to the city enacting a more strict liquor code last October. It restricts late-night entry to bars, sales of shots and limits beer sizes.
"Michael Szot took responsibility for the tragic deaths of his two friends, Sajaad Syed and Mihirtej Boddupalli," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement. "His admission, however, can never erase what happened that evening and how his extremely bad decision to get behind the wheel of a car after he had been drinking and smoking marijuana took two young, promising lives."
Szot has been free on $250,000 bail since July 21, 2014. His next court date is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 2 before Judge Brian Telander.