Cary man pleads guilty, avoids prison for DUI crash that killed McHenry teen

  • Caleb R. Rohrbach

    Caleb R. Rohrbach

Updated 1/16/2020 3:55 PM
Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the date of the crash and the number of passengers.

Expressing deep remorse for what he had done, a 19-year-old Cary man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of aggravated driving under the influence stemming from a crash in March that killed a McHenry teen.

In exchange for pleading guilty to the DUI charge and two counts of aggravated reckless driving, Caleb R. Rohrbach was sentenced to 20 months of periodic imprisonment, the first 12 of which will include electronic home monitoring. He also must serve 48 months of probation and perform 200 hours of community service.


Before Lake County Judge Mark Levitt accepted the plea deal Wednesday, Rohrbach expressed regret for the crash that killed 16-year-old McHenry West High School student Danielle Thomas.

"I pray everyday she is at peace and that we will reunite," Rohrbach said.

Authorities say Rohrbach had marijuana in his system while driving a Hyundai Elantra on Route 12 in Wauconda when it crossed into oncoming traffic at 10:15 p.m. March 15 and collided head-on with Ford Focus driven by Danielle. Rohrbach and three other girls who were passengers in Danielle's car were injured.

Levitt filled in Wednesday for Judge Victoria Rossetti, who normally presides over Rohrbach's case. On Tuesday, Rossetti met with lawyers for both sides and determined that because of Rohrbach's age and lack of prior convictions, a sentence without prison time would be appropriate.

As part of the plea deal, if Rohrbach complies to the rules of probation and electronic home monitoring for 12 months, the final eight months of periodic imprisonment could be commuted.

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Rohrbach also was sentenced to 180 days in the Lake County jail, which was covered by time already served.

The deal also stipulates that if Rohrbach were to return to college, he would be required to wear a bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption.

A spokesman from the Lake County state's attorney's office said Danielle's family and the other crash victims gave their consent to the plea agreement.

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