Driver charged in crash that killed Downers Grove North teen fails to appear in court

  • Joseph Kucharski

    Joseph Kucharski

 
 

Joseph Kucharski, the man charged in the February DUI crash that killed Downers Grove North junior Beth Dunlap, did not show up to court Tuesday to face allegations he violated his bond less than a day after posting bail.

DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan issued a no-bond warrant for Kucharski. Kucharski's attorney, Richard Kayne, said his client is in inpatient addiction treatment.

Kucharski was expected in court to address allegations he violated the no-contact order of his bond on May 16 when a friend from church texted Beth's mother.

According to court documents, in which prosecutors sought to have Kucharski's bond raised back to the original $5 million set after his arrest, Beth's father, Randy Dunlap, contacted prosecutors on May 16 after his wife received a series of text messages from an unknown number, purporting to be a friend of Kucharski.

During a May 21 interview with Downers Grove police, according to the same documents, Deborah Weber told police Kucharski called her from his cousin's cellphone "crying and telling her how grief-stricken he is" and that he "would like to apologize to (Dunlap's) family but is court-ordered not to contact them."

Weber said she offered to contact the family for Kucharski, to which Kucharski allegedly responded "That would be awesome" and thanked her for "being in his corner."

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On Wednesday, police drove to the cousin's Bartlett home, where Kucharski was believed to be staying after posting bail on May 15. No one answered, but the cousin was contacted on his cellphone.

According to court documents, he told police Kucharski was in an inpatient treatment facility but would not disclose the name or location.

Kayne said Kucharski checked himself into the facility on May 20, after his last court appearance where prosecutors said they were investigating the possible bond violation.

While on bail, Kucharski is prohibited from purchasing, renting or driving any vehicle, and is ordered to wear a drug-detecting patch if he is not in inpatient treatment and an alcohol-monitoring device on his ankle. He also is prohibited from contacting the Dunlap family.

Kucharski has been indicted on nine counts of felony aggravated DUI and two counts of reckless homicide. If convicted, he faces three to 14 years in prison.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Prosecutors say Kucharski was asleep at the wheel and coming down from a four-day cocaine bender at 10:55 a.m. Feb. 19 when he drove through the intersection of Main and Grant streets, striking and fatally injuring Beth.

Details of the crash and the days leading up to it were initially disclosed at a Feb. 26 hearing at which Brennan reduced Kucharski's bail from $5 million on his original warrant to $750,000.

Prosecutors allege two Xanax bars, a Benadryl and a prescription medication used to help opiate abusers wean themselves were found in a contact lens case in Kucharski's car. A search of the hotel room where he was staying found two crack pipes, multiple rocks of crack cocaine and a half-empty bottle of vodka, reports said.

Authorities said Kucharski was driving south on Main Street after running a red light when the crash occurred.

Beth, who had late arrival privileges, and a teacher were preparing to cross to enter school when Kucharski's vehicle struck her, authorities said. She died days later and her organs were donated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kucharski failed a field sobriety test and his blood-alcohol content was determined to be .031, authorities said.

Kucharski has a criminal history dating to 1985 that includes two DUI arrests, a conviction for possessing cannabis in Georgia and a battery conviction.

Kucharski's next court date is scheduled for July 9, when Brennan will consider prosecutors' motion to forfeit Kucharski's bond.

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