A 21-year-old Chicago man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 months of probation today for driving under the influence of alcohol when he struck a woman's vehicle head-on in River Grove as she was driving to go run in a Labor Day half-marathon.
Jose Rodriguez pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence when he hit Elizabeta Petruc at 6:20 a.m. Sept. 6, 2010 in the 3000 block of Thatcher Avenue.
Had the case gone to trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Kelly said evidence would have shown that Rodriguez was driving 60 to 70 mph when he hit Petruc. His blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit and at the time he was not of legal drinking age. Both vehicles caught fire and both drivers were hospitalized with fractures.
While giving her victim impact statement, Petruc, who works as an agent for the FBI, told Judge Thomas Tucker that since the crash she has had five surgeries and it will likely be 12 to 18 months before she can return to work full time.
For months after the crash she stayed in Ohio with family members who took care of her. She had to stay in bed for several weeks and still has braces on both legs and uses crutches and a wheelchair to get around. Her left wrist, ankle and legs were broken, one knee badly damaged and she was bruised by her seatbelt.
"I’ve sacrificed a great deal to become an FBI agent and I love my job,” Petruc said. “I’m just a shadow of myself physically and mentally.”
Rodriguez, who does not speak English, apologized through an interpreter and his attorney.
“He realizes his apology is of little use to the victim. But he is truly sorry and the matter haunts him,” said defense attorney Roy Amatore.
As part of his sentence Rodriguez will also have to participate in an alcohol safety program and perform 100 hours of community service.