Charges upgraded in crash that killed Downers Grove North student

  • Joseph Kucharski

    Joseph Kucharski

Updated 2/25/2019 3:47 PM

Charges against the driver who struck a Downers Grove North High School student Tuesday have been upgraded to include reckless homicide following the girl's death.

Joseph Kucharski, 51, of Naperville, also is charged with felony aggravated DUI causing the death of 17-year-old Beth Dunlap prosecutors said Monday morning.


Beth died Friday from her injuries.

Kucharski was arrested Friday on a $5 million warrant but his Monday morning bond hearing on the upgraded charges was delayed after his attorney, Jay Fuller, asked Judge Liam Brennan to postpone it for a day so he could further discuss the charges and view video of the crash.

Beth, a junior and volleyball player, was struck around 11 a.m. Tuesday outside the school at 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.

The state's attorney's office said Beth's family is working closely with authorities during an ongoing investigation. Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Johnston told Brennan that Kucharski's ex-wife was also in attendance for Monday's bail hearing but did not disclose what, if anything, she would be testifying to.

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In 1992, Kucharski was charged in DuPage County as a fugitive from justice. Court records allege Kucharski fled Georgia after being charged with the possession, manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance.

Those charges were later dropped in 1993 when Georgia officials decided not to extradite Kucharski.

In 1991, Kucharski pleaded guilty in DuPage to misdemeanor theft and was sentenced to six months or court supervision.

Court records also show multiple traffic citations dating to 1985. In June 1993, Kucharski was stopped in Naperville for driving 49 mph in a 25 mph zone and was arrested on charges of DUI after failing field sobriety tests, but those charges were later dropped.

In 2012, Kucharski paid a $140 fine after being stopped in Naperville for driving 74 mph in a 45 mph zone.

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

Kucharski's bail hearing was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in courtroom 4012.

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