Was driver incapacitated or steering in high-speed crash that killed teen?
A collision reconstruction expert with the Park Ridge Police Department testified the car involved in a fatal crash that killed a Mount Prospect teen was traveling at 106 mph five seconds before impact and 107.5 mph at impact.
The data came from the air bag control module -- or "black box" -- in the white Hyundai Sonata driven by Adam Grunin, 32, who's charged with reckless homicide in the July 21, 2018, collision that killed 16-year-old Alyssa Lendino, who was about to begin her junior year at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. The crash seriously injured her sister, father and mother. The Lendinos were riding in a Chevrolet Equinox that was traveling south on Milwaukee Avenue in Wheeling and was slowing to stop at a traffic light at Hintz Road when the collision occurred.
Police Sgt. Kirk Ashleman, then a member of the multijurisdictional Major Case Assistance Team, testified the Hyundai was traveling at excessive speeds. Black box data also indicated Grunin's car traveled about 250 yards, more than two football fields, in the five seconds before impact, Ashleman said.
The collision was a "full-contact impact," according to Ashleman, who said data indicated Grunin did not apply brakes and was using "some kind of steering" to keep the vehicle in its lane, as eyewitnesses described and surveillance video showed.
"It might be subtle, but he had to exert some input" to prevent the car veering, Ashleman said.
Defense attorney Steven Weinberg says his client was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2005 and the fatal crash was the result of a seizure Grunin suffered that caused him to lose control of the car. According to Weinberg, his client was under a doctor's care and was taking prescribed anti-seizure medication at the time of the crash. No alcohol or drugs were found in his system except those prescribed for him, Weinberg said.
During his cross-examination of Ashleman, Weinberg suggested other road- or vehicle-related factors contributed to the Hyundai's remaining in its lane.
Prosecutors say Grunin was fleeing another crash when he struck the car belonging to the Lendinos, who had just finished lunch at Super Dawg in Wheeling.
Alyssa Lendino's mother, Michele Lendino, was behind the wheel when she heard a horrible sound and the car started spinning.
"I thought I lost my whole family," said Michele Lendino, who testified Tuesday she kicked open the driver's-side door and screamed for help to get her daughters out of the car.
Michele Lendino said she saw Grunin sitting in the driver's seat of his car with "blood all over his face."
Michele's husband and Alyssa's father, Anthony Lendino, suffered rib and spinal fractures, a lacerated spleen and other injuries. Their daughter Amanda, then 12, was treated for multiple fractures to her collarbone, spine, pelvis and both legs that required four surgeries to repair, Michele Lendino said.
Testimony continues Thursday in Rolling Meadows.