Defense expert testifies driver had 'no intentional control' of car
A collision reconstruction expert testified Thursday that Adam Grunin, charged with reckless homicide in the 2018 Wheeling collision that claimed the life of Mount Prospect 16-year-old Alyssa Lendino, had no "intentional control" of his vehicle.
Roger W. Barrette's findings -- which he based on police reports, records, surveillance video from a local business and video from the windshield camera of a delivery truck -- echoed those of prosecution witness Sgt. Kirk Ashleman, a collision reconstruction expert with the Park Ridge Police Department.
Barrette, an adjunct instructor for the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, agreed with his NU colleague Ashleman that Grunin's white Hyundai Sonata was traveling 107.5 mph south on Milwaukee Avenue about 2 p.m. on July 21, 2018, when it struck the Lendino family's Chevrolet Equinox. The Lendinos' SUV was slowing to stop at a traffic light at the intersection of Milwaukee and Hintz Road in Wheeling.
Alyssa's mother, father and 12-year-old sister were seriously injured in the crash.
Both Barrette and Ashleman referenced information from the electronic data recorder -- a vehicle's so-called black box that retains data recorded five seconds before a collision and up to impact -- in their testimony. Ashleman said Grunin would have exerted some "steering input" before the crash although it may have been slight. Barrette disagreed that Grunin did any steering, testifying there was "no evidence in the record that would indicate any intentional driver control" of the vehicle moments before the accident.
Defense attorney Steven Weinberg said his 32-year-old client was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2005 and the tragic crash was the result of a seizure which caused the Wheeling man to lose control of the car. According to Weinberg, Grunin 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.
Prosecutors have a different theory. They say Grunin was fleeing another crash that occurred moments earlier in front of the Wheeling Fire Department station at 499 S. Milwaukee Ave., about 3,100 feet north of the Hintz Road intersection.
On direct examination, Barrette disagreed with the prosecutors' theory, saying characteristics of this crash were inconsistent with fleeing and eluding cases.
Wheeling police officer Rick Richardson testified he rode in the ambulance with Grunin to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.
Describing Grunin as confused and seemingly unaware he was in an ambulance, Richardson testified Wednesday that Grunin said: "Let me guess, I fell asleep."
According to Richardson, Grunin said he had worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the night before the crash.
Testimony continues Friday in Rolling Meadows.