Authorities: Driver on drugs, going 104 before crash into Arlington Heights police station

  • Wooden boards cover the spot where a car -- traveling up to 104 mph at one point, officials say -- struck the new Arlington Heights police station. Police plan to charge the driver with reckless driving and driving under the influence of drugs.

      Wooden boards cover the spot where a car -- traveling up to 104 mph at one point, officials say -- struck the new Arlington Heights police station. Police plan to charge the driver with reckless driving and driving under the influence of drugs. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • A worker on Thursday reinstalls lighting outside the new Arlington Heights police station, where a car crashed into the lobby wall Sunday.

      A worker on Thursday reinstalls lighting outside the new Arlington Heights police station, where a car crashed into the lobby wall Sunday. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/15/2018 8:47 PM

An Arlington Heights man was under the influence of drugs and driving up to 104 mph Sunday when he lost control of his car and slammed into the village's new police station, police said Thursday.

The 44-year-old man, who recently moved to the suburbs from Brookhaven, Georgia, will be charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs and miscellaneous traffic citations in connection with the crash that occurred at 5:28 p.m. Sunday, police said.

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Police didn't immediately release the man's identity, pending his discharge from Northwest Community Hospital, where his condition has been upgraded from critical to fair.

Authorities said the man lost control of his 2015 Volkswagen GTI about two blocks from the downtown station where the angled Davis Street turns into the east-west Sigwalt Street. The car struck a curb, benches, a fire hydrant and a mini-retaining wall before crashing into the building at 200 E. Sigwalt St.

Firefighters had to cut him from the smashed car, which came to rest on its side near the station's front entrance.

The black box recovered from the vehicle registered a high speed of 104 mph, police said. As part of the investigation, police also relied on surveillance video, traditional accident reconstruction techniques and a witness who saw the crash unfold from the neighboring fire station.

"None of the sources of evidence suggested the collision was a purposeful act and was, instead, clearly a result of the recklessness of the driver," police said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In an interview with police at the hospital, the driver said he had taken cocaine and other prescription drugs before the crash, according to police Cmdr. Shawn Gyorke. Prescription drugs were found at the crash scene, he said.

While investigators initially were unsure of why the suburban Atlanta man was in Arlington Heights, they later learned he had moved in August and lived about five blocks away from the new police station. He still has a Georgia driver's license and license plates.

"But we don't know where he was trying to go or why he chose to drive so fast," Gyorke said.

None of the driver's injuries -- to a lung and ribs -- are expected to be life-threatening. After release from the hospital, he will be brought to the temporary police headquarters on Shure Drive for booking on the misdemeanor charges and be eligible for release on his own recognizance, Gyorke said.

A structural engineer inspected the two-level, 70,500-square-foot building on Tuesday and deemed there to be no structural damage. But it will slightly delay when the department moves in, which had been planned for this fall, officials said.

Deputy Police Chief Nick Pecora said the interior wall of the lobby that was struck has already been repaired. That work included a rewiring for building systems, such as the fire alarm. On Thursday, a worker reinstalled exterior lights on the building.

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