DUI, reckless driving charges issued after Downers North student suffers 'unrecoverable injuries'

  • The Downers Grove North High School community is urging students and others to honor Beth Dunlap, who wore number 18 as a volleyball player, by doing something positive in regard to the number -- such as performing 18 random acts of kindness or donating $18 to a charity.

      The Downers Grove North High School community is urging students and others to honor Beth Dunlap, who wore number 18 as a volleyball player, by doing something positive in regard to the number -- such as performing 18 random acts of kindness or donating $18 to a charity. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, 2018

  • "Those who know Beth know that she was a fierce competitor and a strong person," Downers Grove North Principal Janice Schwarze told students on Friday.

      "Those who know Beth know that she was a fierce competitor and a strong person," Downers Grove North Principal Janice Schwarze told students on Friday. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 2/23/2019 6:28 AM

The driver who struck a Downers Grove North High School student Tuesday has been charged with felony aggravated DUI and felony reckless driving, authorities said Friday.

The charges against Joseph Kucharski, 51, of Naperville, came as the family of 17-year-old Beth Dunlap told the school's principal she suffered "unrecoverable injuries" from the crash. Relatives are making funeral arrangements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Beth, a junior and volleyball player, was struck around 11 a.m. Tuesday outside the school in the intersection of Main and Grant streets, authorities said. She was walking in a marked crosswalk in conjunction with the "walk" signal.

Kucharski is accused of hitting Beth while he was driving south on Main Street after running a red light, the DuPage County state's attorney's office said in a news release. A $5 million warrant for his arrest was issued, and he is expected to appear Monday at a bond hearing.

"Beth appreciates the love and prayers that everyone has offered," the family told Downers North Principal Janice Schwarze. "Please continue to pray for Beth and celebrate her life."

The state's attorney's office said Beth's family is working closely with authorities during an ongoing investigation.

Her school urged students to celebrate her life by finding ways to "remember her spirit of strength while helping others."

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"Those who know Beth know that she was a fierce competitor and a strong person," Schwarze told students on Friday, while the school observed 18 seconds of silence in her honor. "As hard as this loss is for all of us, I believe that she would want us to be strong and take care of each other. In fact, Beth's family has ensured that she will take care of others by donating her organs. While this tragedy has forever changed the lives of many in our community, the lives of other people have new hope because of Beth.

"Beth's number in volleyball was 18. Consider doing something positive in regard to this number in her honor. For example, you might perform 18 random acts of kindness. You might donate $18 to a charity. Do what feels right.

"The North High community is obviously hurting right now, but by caring for each other, we will get through this together. If you are struggling with this news and need support today or any day, please do not hesitate to visit the counseling office. If you're worried about someone else, please let us know. We are always here to help you."

Schwarze said the school's counseling and student support services staff will continue to provide assistance as long as students need it.

"Any student who is struggling is encouraged to seek out their counselor," Schwarze said. "Parents, don't hesitate to call your child's counselor if you want someone to initiate contact with your child."

Downers Grove police on Friday asked anyone with information about the crash to call investigators at (630) 434-5600.

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