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Deputy runs off road while on phone

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Deputy runs off road while on phone

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 14, 2013

Much has been in the news of late about the hazard of cellular telephone usage while driving. Claims are that it is a greater distraction than DUI. Not that "DUI" is a distraction; it's much more an impairment.

Boone County Accident Boone County Accident
Last Thursday evening, a week ago, Lt. Don Carlson, 45, of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department got the wrong end of attention at an accident scene. At about 10:21PM on June 6, while off-duty, he ran off a Boone County road while talking on his phone.

Boone County Deputy Prine (#784) responded to a location on Manchester Road (a/k/a Sharon Road) about 0.3 mile east of Poplar Grove Road in Leroy Township. Had this crash occurred about 2,500 feet north, some cop from Wisconsin would have handled it.

Dep. Prine's report reads, "Unit 1 Driver advised Unit 1 was traveling east on Manchester Rd. east of Poplar Grove Rd. Unit 1 Driver stated he was on the telephone talking when Unit 1 crossed over the westbound traffic lane and entered the ditch located on the north side of Manchester Rd. Unit 1 Driver continued to drive eastbound in the ditch attempting to exit the ditch but struck a tree. End"

Sgt. Reid (#791) liked that report and approved it.

The speed limit there is the Illinois open highway speed limit of 55. There are no skid marks on the roadway near the point where the car left the road. From the tracks still remaining in the tall grass on the north shoulder, the car just gradually left the roadway, as if it drifted off to the left. The tracks gradually drifted farther off the roadway. Then the tracks straightened out, and the vehicle, a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban, missed one tree and hit the next tree - hard. A piece of side trim is embedded in the tree trunk and sticking straight out from the tree.

The vehicle was in the ditch for 290 feet, according to the diagram, before it hit the tree, and then it proceeded another 37 feet before stopping.

Carlson probably made the right decision to ride it out, rather than jerking the wheel to re-enter the roadway, which probably would have resulted in flipping the vehicle. Still, he hit the tree hard, prompting thoughts about what his speed must have been when he left the roadway and how much he attempted to slow after entering the ditch. Contributory causes on the Crash Report are 4 (too fast) and 5 (improper turn).

Carlson was transported by Capron Rescue to St. Anthony's Hospital.

The Crash Report code for BAC is "96". This denotes that no type of test for presence of alcohol was offered. Dep. Prine must have concluded at the scene that alcohol was not suspected. No traffic citation was issued by the Boone County deputy.

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