Aurora Woman Pleads Guilty In Crash That Killed Two

— The glare of the sun off passing motorcycles caused Alia Bernard to reach for her sunglasses on the May 2009 morning when she caused a chain-reaction crash that killed a west suburban couple.

But it was the marijuana — consumed three or four days earlier, according to her attorney — found in her blood system that has the 27-year-old Aurora woman facing a minimum of six years in prison after she pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of aggravated DUI.

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In a sometimes trembling voice, Bernard, 27, of the 1500 block of West Galena Boulevard in Aurora, admitted she had marijuana in her system, according to prosecutors.

Judge Allen Anderson accepted her guilty plea and set sentencing for Feb. 8. Although Bernard faces up to 28 years in prison, Anderson can sentence her to probation or a lesser punishment if he finds exceptional circumstances as to why she should not be imprisoned.

Bernard’s attorney, Bruce Brandwein, said he would argue for the lightest sentence allowable.

“She has no background, there’s no impairment here,” Brandwein said, noting prosecutors agreed that she was not high at the time of the crash.

About 8:20 a.m. on May 23, 2009, at the intersection of Route 47 and Smith Road south of Elburn, a vehicle in the southbound lane on Route 47 had stopped to turn left onto Smith Road, waiting for several northbound motorcycles to pass, according to the release.

Two additional southbound vehicles stopped behind it when a 1999 Toyota Solara driven by Bernard, approached and struck the third vehicle in the rear. The collision created a chain reaction that ultimately pushed the first vehicle into the path of the oncoming motorcycles.

A 2000 Harley-Davidson Softtail struck the third vehicle, the motorcycle’s driver, Wade Thomas, 44, of St. Charles, and the passenger, his wife, Denise Thomas, 45, also of St. Charles, were killed.

Prosecutors initially charged Bernard with two counts of reckless homicide, claiming she failed to “keep a proper lookout” prior to the crash.

Court documents also state Bernard texted someone around the time of the crash and that she failed to slow down or brake to avoid the crash because she took her eyes off the road to grab sunglasses and put them on.

Bernard became vulnerable to the more serious charges after an April Illinois Supreme Court decision ruled that prosecutors did not have to prove impairment was a “proximate cause” of a fatal crash, but just that defendants have any amount of a drug in their systems. That decision prompted prosecutors to upgrade charges, and potential penalties, against Bernard.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Disgraceful

    This is an outrage! Marijuana in the bloodstream from days prior, DOES NOT IMPAIR A PERSON AT ALL! DUI charges should NOT be allowed to be handed down in this type of case. The prosecuters should feel ashamed for using such an unjust law. The lawmakers who passed such a ridiculous law should also feel ashamed. I hope the judge uses simple common sense when he hands down a sentence to this obviously sweet little drink of water!!!

    • Jenna Renshaw

      I completely agree! The mere fact that a person has drugs in their system does not equate to driving under the influence. As clearly stated above, she was not high at the time of the collision. At this rate, people who take any kind of medication, whether is be OTC or prescribed, will be subject to this horrible precendent. So unfortunate!

    • Roberta Waker

      This “sweet little drink of water” is responsible for killing two people. Would you feel the same if it was your family? Drugs stay in your system for a long time after you stop using them, which is why rehab isn’t an overnighter. If it wasn’t the drugs, but her inattention that caused the accident; she is still responsible for killing two people and should serve jail time. If the law is wrong, people can change it by putting pressure on our lawmakers; but for now, she must accept responsibility for this accident and the death of two innocent people.

  • She Is A Large Marge Snack

    She will fine, protected and loved, lots of love. Shared for piercing services.

  • Drugs Are Bad... Mkay Mr. Mackey

    If she had OTC or precribed in her system, she would of had a different sentence. Illegal drugs are illegal. Get it???????. ILLEGAL look it up, learn it, live it.

  • Jim Hamilton

    I don’t buy it. It was all about the text message. If it were Glare from motorcycles then she had to have known the motorcycles were there.

    • Jim Hamilton

      She would have seen the stoped cars if were glare from a motorcycle from atleast three stoped car lengths so the glare had to have hit her way before that she didn’t even try to stop or slow down. She is a liar lock her up for the max.

    • Roberta Waker

      Agreed. When you drive, your attention should be on the road and other vehicles. You are expected, by law, to have your vehicle under control at all times, which she obviously didn’t do. She is responsible for killing two people and should serve jail time. Whether or not it was drugs or her inattention that caused the accident, she is still responsible. Two people are dead and surely their lives must be worth something.

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