Elgin man pleads guilty to killing Bartlett bicyclist in crash while fleeing police
A 28-year-old Elgin man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing a bicyclist in a hit-and-run crash.
Lance Neal, of the 0-100 block of Clifford Court, last week pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and failure to report an accident causing death, as part of a plea deal. The charges stemmed from a July 2020 crash in Elgin that killed 52-year-old Sandra Sampey of Bartlett and left her husband, John, severely injured.
Around 4 p.m. July 28, 2020, Neal was driving near Chicago and Spring streets when he hit a vehicle and fled. The driver of the other vehicle followed Neal and flagged down a police officer. The officer then pursued Neal south on Raymond Street.
Authorities say Neal accelerated to 56 mph in the 30 mph zone and lost control near Purify Drive. Sandra and John Sampey were riding their bikes when Neal's car hit them.
After the crash, Neal ran away.
At a July 15 hearing, John Sampey -- who uses a wheelchair because of permanent damage to a leg -- insisted on reading his victim-impact statement while standing at a podium, held up by his two teenage sons.
He said his wife had worked as a flight attendant and, more recently, as a fitness instructor. She also had a degree in mathematics. He recalled how he met Sandra because his brother persuaded him, at 11:30 p.m., to go to a New Year's Eve party.
"We arrived at 11:45 p.m., and across the room was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen," John Sampey said. "She smiled, we walked toward each other, we were dancing, and I actually received a New Year's Eve kiss."
He recalled telling his brother on the way home that he was going to marry that woman.
"The worst thing: we will not be able to grow old together, which we always planned," John Sampey said.
Neal will have to serve at least 50% of his sentence before being eligible for parole. He received credit for the 353 days he spent in jail awaiting trial.
"On July 28, 2020, John Sampey was enjoying a bike ride with his wife, Sandy. That day ended in tragedy because of the reckless choices made by this defendant," Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser said in a news release. " ... His selfish behavior means their two teenage sons lost their mother and had to see their father struggle to live."