Frankfort firefighter owes fine in hit-and-run case
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com January 26, 2012 6:12PM
Updated: February 28, 2012 8:09AM
JOLIET — A Frankfort Fire Protection District firefighter is due back in Will County Circuit Court on March 6 because he still owes $250 in fines and must attend a victim impact program in connection with a hit-and-run accident, a judge told him Tuesday.
Paul Kelch, who has a history of traffic violations, also will have his driver’s license suspended for six months beginning Sunday for having three or more moving violations in a 12-month period, according to the secretary of state’s office.
A valid driver’s license is a requirement for employment in the Frankfort fire district. As of Tuesday, Kelch still was employed there, Chief Jim Grady said. Kelch was a battalion chief until November, according to fire district attorney Tom Gilbert, who declined to elaborate.
Kelch, 36, of Joliet, appeared before Judge Marzell Richardson without an attorney and told the judge he thought his case was done. He previously pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and failure to reduce speed in a Sept. 9 accident in New Lenox Township, for which he was fined $1,000 and ordered to wear a monitoring bracelet.
But Richardson told Kelch he still owes $250 and must attend the victim impact program.
In the Sept. 9 accident, Kelch, who was driving a 2006 Ford pickup truck, failed to stop for a red light, rear-ended a Honda Accord and fled the scene, according to state police. Police said they found his vehicle parked near his Joliet residence, with front bumper damage and a warm hood.
In a subsequent search of the vehicle, police said they observed that a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device had been disconnected, and one open and three sealed cans of Miller Lite were on the rear floorboard.
The alcohol ignition device requires drivers to submit breath samples before starting the vehicle. Kelch was required to have the device in his vehicle after a previous hit-and-run accident in Manhattan in November 2010.
In that incident, Kelch was found guilty of failure to reduce speed and leaving the scene of an accident and agreed to use the alcohol ignition device even though he was found not guilty of drunken driving.
State police said they are awaiting analysis of Kelch’s device to determine if it was disconnected at the time of the Sept. 9 accident. Disconnecting the device is a felony.
Contributing: Jon Seidel