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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

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Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 7, 2008

In response to a FOIA request to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for an update on the Eva Grys accident on Haligus Road on October 26, 2007, the Department refused to release information about the toxicology report and tickets, based on an exemption in the FOIA for pending investigations. The Department did respond very quickly to the request, but it provided only a portion of the initial report identifying the occupants of the vehicles and no diagram or information about vehicle speeds or paths of travel.

There are several possible reasons for this limited response. In December Sheriff's Sgt. Hubbard stated that the Illinois State Police lab was running about 90 days behind on toxicology reports. So the ISP lab is either running more than 120 days behind and hasn't yet provided a toxicology report to the Sheriff's Department, or it has provided a report and the Department is deciding now what charges to file.

The Sheriff's Department should by now have clearly in mind what charges will be filed, depending on the report from the State Police. If the report comes back negative, then file Set A of charges; if the report comes back positive, then file Set B of charges. One would expect that the latest internal report would indicate the course of action upon receipt of the tox report. Then, when the report is received, out comes the file for review and issuance of tickets.

This accident happened more than four months ago. How can the Sheriff's Department operate efficiently and productively, if it cannot, in a timely manner, complete an investigation of an accident caused by driver error? In fact, Set A of charges (no negative toxicology) could have been filed well before now. Then, if there is positive toxicology, which I certainly hope is not the case, charges can be upgraded to Set B.

Efforts will continue to obtain information that should be available to the public, such as citations for traffic violations.

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