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So, where IS the press release?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

So, where IS the press release?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
August 16, 2011


This morning's print edition of the Northwest Herald carries an article titled "Sheriff says fatal crash no accident". In paragraph four the article continues that the Sheriff's Department determined that the crash was not an accident and said so in a press release.

Checking the Sheriff's website (http://www.mchenrysheriff.org/) there is no press release there. One of the functions of the Department's Public Information Officer is to take care of press releases. Of course, she can only do what she is told. Is someone interfering with her performing her duties? How did the Northwest Herald get a press release that is not on the sheriff's website?

The Sheriff's Department often lags news articles with its press releases, or it never publishes them at all. In the original press release about the Ramirez-Arguelles head-on crash on August 5 that killed Sonia Hume, the release bears the sheriff's name but the undersheriff's initials. Does that mean that Sheriff Nygren was not even in town on Friday, August 5?

How simple it would be to change the signature line on the press release form and provide the name of the employee responsible for the information. If "Andrew Zinke, Undersheriff" is putting out the press release, then type his name under the signature line. (At least now, thanks to earlier complaints, the department puts initials by the sheriff's signed name when the sheriff is not around to sign his own name (which still seems to be pretty often)).

The article really tells readers nothing. Just how did the investigation of the crash reveal the elements of first-degree murder?

Did Ramirez-Arguelles start out that morning and announce that he intended to kill Sonia Hume with his car? If you are planning to kill someone, do you have to know who that someone is? Or did he start out that morning intending to kill someone with his car, but not knowing who his victim would be? Is that first-degree murder?

I don't normally write about careless (I've been told that Illinois does not have a reckless driving violation) driving or write on behalf of the irresponsible or careless driver. I've seen reckless drivers on the road who pass strings of cars, forcing them to the sides of the road so that head-on crashes don't happen. If Ramirez-Arguelles was passing two cars, he was out in the oncoming lane for a while.

What evasive action, if any, was taken by any of the four drivers? Did either of the two westbound drivers slow? head for the shoulder or the ditch? sound a horn? At what point did Ms. Hume brake? or head for the shoulder? Did Ramirez-Arguelles brake before hitting the Hume car? or attempt to pull toward the right or even to the left shoulder?

What is the sight distance there? No-passing lane lines? Intersection-warning sign for the intersection of Tryon Grove Road and Barnard Mill Road?

Will a first-degree murder charge hold up in court? Or is it a bargaining chip or a bluff?

Will Ramirez-Arguelles get jail time before he is deported? When did he come into the U.S. and how? Is he employed? By whom? What did he use for ID for his employment verification Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9, when he went to work? Did he have insurance? a driver's license?



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