ST. CHARLES, Ill. (STMW) — A DeKalb County man pleaded guilty Thursday to driving under the influence of heroin when his SUV struck a car on a snow-packed highway last winter, killing an 11-year-old boy.
Benjamin J. Black, 29, of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive in Sycamore, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated DUI in Kane County court. Authorities said an analysis of Black’s urine taken immediately after the Feb. 27, 2013, crash revealed the presence of heroin metabolite.
Circuit Judge James Hallock accepted the plea and set Black’s next court appearance for a March 20, 2014, when he faces up to 14 years in prison, according to the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office.
Authorities said the crash occurred about 7:30 p.m. when a 1999 Ford Expedition driven by Black struck the rear of a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier on Route 64, killing Matthew Ranken, 11, of Sycamore, who was a backseat passenger in the Cavalier.
A passenger in the front seat of the Cavalier, 18-year-old Teale Noble of Sycamore, was severely injured. The Cavalier was being driven by Matthew’s brother, 21-year-old Nicholas Weber of Sycamore, who also was injured, as were the drivers of two other cars the Cavalier was forced into.
The vehicles had been stopped because of a previous accident further west on Route 64.
Black, who also was issued citations charging him with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and operating an uninsured vehicle, remains in custody in the Kane County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
“This case is the result of Mr. Black’s selfish and criminal choices, and a terrible reminder of the inherent danger of heroin use,” State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said in a statement.
“Some might view a heroin habit as the self-destruction of the user. But this case is much more than that. This case is a gut-wrenching tragedy,” he said.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)