BRIDGEVIEW (STMW) — A southwest suburban police officer was sentenced to six years in prison Monday for a December 2009 DUI crash that killed a 29-year-old man on the Stevenson Expressway.
Eddie Stapinski had bloodshot eyes, reeked of alcohol and spoke with slurred speech after crashing into 29-year-old Chinatown IT worker Mike Wong on Dec. 20, 2009, prosecutors said. His car was going 80 mph when it struck and killed Wong, they alleged on Dec. 22, when he was ordered held on $750,000 bond.
Stapinski, a Lockport police officer, was initially charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, but on Monday pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI and was sentenced to six years by Judge Colleen Hyland, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin said.
Stapinski was drinking at West End, a bar at 1326 W. Madison while watching a Blackhawks game the night of the crash, sources said.
At his bond hearing, prosecutor John Carroll said Stapinski told police he was driving 80 mph southbound on I-55 near Cicero when he hit the median, launching his car into the northbound lanes.
Stapinski admitted drinking “a few beers” between 6 and 9 p.m. that night, and a witness saw him weaving in traffic shortly before the 9:35 crash, Carroll said.
The first trooper at the accident noticed Stapinski seemed drunk, but he refused a Breathalyzer, Carroll said. A test taken at the emergency room soon after showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.223 — nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08.
Stapinski was initially placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation by Lockport police.
Wong, a Chinese immigrant and IT worker, was driving home from his second job at a Far South Side restaurant when Stapinski’s vehicle veered across the median and crashed into his vehicle head-on.
Pulled from the wreckage of his mangled car, Wong died less than an hour later at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said.