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Lawsuit Filed Over Wrong-Way DUI Crash That Killed Law Student

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Erik Johnson / Photo from Chicago Police Department

Erik Johnson / Photo from Chicago Police Department

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(STMW) – The family of a University of Chicago law student who was killed in a crash on Lake Shore Drive in May filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the alleged drunk driver who caused it.

Laura LaPlante, 26, was a passenger in a taxi heading north on Lake Shore Drive near Randolph about 2 a.m. on May 2. The cab was struck head-on by a wrong-way driver headed south in the northbound lanes, authorities said at the time.

LaPlante and the other passenger in the taxi, who were not wearing seat belts, where partially ejected from the cab.

LaPlante’s father filed the wrongful death suit Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court against the alleged wrong-way driver, 23-year-old Erik Johnson.

Johnson, of the 3500 block of North Janssen, was charged with one count of aggravated DUI causing accident or death, two counts of aggravated DUI causing accident or bodily harm, and misdemeanor counts of DUI and improper use of a controlled access highway, according to police.

Authorities said Johnson had a blood-alcohol level of .195 — more than twice the legal limit — at the time of the crash. He was released from jail after posting bond.

LaPlante, a Hancock, N.H. native, was survived by her father, Daniel LaPlante; her mother, Roberta LaPlante; her brothers, Peter and Ryan LaPlante; and her sister, Claire LaPlante, according to the suit.

“The impact of this tragedy is immense,” Matthew Jenkins, attorney for the LaPlante family, said in a statement.

“Laura LaPlante was an amazing young woman who touched the lives of everyone around her. Not only is her family heartbroken but so are those in her native New Hampshire and in the University of Chicago community where she was an exemplary student,” Jenkins said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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