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Mokena man pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed two

Joseph Slattery

Joseph Slattery

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Updated: August 10, 2013 6:29AM



A Mokena man told a judge Monday he caused the deaths of two elderly women in 2011 when he drove with alcohol and drugs in his system and crashed into their car head-on.

Joseph E. Slattery, 27, of the 20000 block of Lakeview Way, pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated driving under the influence before Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak.

Slattery was taken into custody. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for July 26.

Two of the charges, which accuse Slattery of drunken driving that caused the deaths of Margaret Simons, 72, and Suzanne Thomson, 92, carry sentences of 6 to 28 years in prison. The third count, which accuses Slattery of drunken driving that caused injuries to Simons’ son, Ralph Simons, carries a sentence of 1 to 12 years that would be served at the same time as the others.

Police said Slattery was driving a car south in the northbound lanes of Route 45 in Peotone Township about 8 p.m. Aug. 28, 2011.

Margaret Simons, 72, was driving north on Route 45 near Wilmington-Peotone Road, with her mother, Thomson; and her special-needs adult son as passengers. The trio were headed home to Rolling Meadows, authorities said.

A vehicle ahead of Simons’ car swerved to avoid Slattery, who was driving about 53 mph in the wrong lane, Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Byers said.

The driver of that vehicle watched in his rear-view mirror as Slattery hit Simons’ car head-on, Byers said, then called for emergency help and went back to the scene of the crash.

At the time of the crash, police said, Margaret Simons had slowed to about 26 mph and had swerved in an attempt to avoid Slattery’s car. There was no evidence Slattery attempted to brake before the collision, Byers said.

Margaret Simons was pronounced dead at the scene. Thomson was pinned beneath the dashboard and later died at Provena St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee. Simons’ son was treated at St. Mary’s for a fractured hip and left hand, Byers said.

Slattery also was taken to St. Mary’s, where he told medical staff he didn’t remember the crash, Byers said.

Slattery’s girlfriend and toddler son were in the car with him and were treated for minor injuries, Byers said.

Slattery has been ticketed before in Will County for traffic offenses, including speeding, operating an uninsured vehicle and driving on a suspended license. He has also been in trouble for possessing alcohol as a minor, illegal transportation of alcohol and providing alcohol to minors, according to court records.

After the crash, Slattery told police he had one beer about five hours before the collision, Byers said.

Slattery’s blood-alcohol content was .059 at 11:30 p.m. that night. A doctor at the hospital said Slattery had acute alcohol intoxication, Byers said.



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