No criminal charges in fatal accident

The 16-year-old driver in a July 17 accident that killed 14-year-old Sean Richards of Hinsdale and injured three others will not face criminal charges, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

“The DuPage County MERIT Major Crash Investigation Team, the Hinsdale Police Department and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office conducted a meticulously thorough and complete investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the events,” states a joint press release from the agencies. “Based on the results of the investigation and the evaluation of the evidence in the context of Illinois law, we have reached the conclusion that the 16-year-old boy responsible for the accident will face three traffic offenses but will not be charged with any other criminal offenses.”

He will be cited for failure to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk and failure to decrease speed to avoid colliding with a person. Fines of up to $1,000 per offense are possible and the secretary of state would revoke his license upon conviction because the incident involved a fatality, DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin stated.

The citations indicate the driver is the responsible individual who was operating the vehicle that struck Sean Richards, causing his death, the release states.

“The evidence, however, does not establish either an intent to physically harm anyone nor reckless driving. The findings of the investigation and our decision to not pursue any further criminal charges in this case are based on criminal law and we offer no opinion on the civil liability of any party involved in this case,” the release states.

The investigation determined the driver “pressed the accelerator to full depression, believing he was pressing on the brake pedal, and struck Richards before driving into a business across the street,” according to the release.

The event data recorder shows the brake pedal was never pressed, the release states. The Jeep’s electronic stability program engaged braking after Richards was struck and about .8 seconds before the Jeep hit Fontano’s Subs across the street.

No amount of drugs or alcohol were found in the driver’s blood or urine, the release states.

Sean Richards was walking on the sidewalk on the west side of Lincoln Street when he was hit by the Jeep. He was taken to UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Hinsdale in critical condition and later flown by helicopter to Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. He died three days later.

Hinsdale police concluded their investigation in August after receiving results from the Illinois State Police Crime lab and forwarded the case to the DuPage County State’s attorney’s office for its review and determination on charges.

The investigation included a review of police reports, crash scene videos and photographs, witness statements, toxicology reports and videos from police body cameras.

“The tragic death of Sean Richards was a horrible accident, and the subsequent investigation was particularly difficult for those involved,” the release states. “We personally want to thank the first responding men and women directly involved at the accident scene for their efforts. We also thank the DuPage County MERIT Major Crash Investigation Team, the Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Villa Park, Woodridge, Bartlett, Elmhurst, Oak Brook and Burr Ridge police departments, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office and members of our staffs for their efforts and assistance into the investigation of this tragic turn of events.”

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean