Investigation of the fatal crash on Route 53 over Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows that killed four family members — Stacy Harris, Jeremy Johnson, Herlanda L. Harris, and Jimarion Harris. YouTube Tips ⓘ
Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Agents arrested and charged Lamar M. Graves, a 32-year-old male of Bellwood, IL, with four counts of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence (DUI) involving death following a fatal rear-end crash on northbound Route 53 over Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows.
Illinois State Police report that on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, at approximately 11:33 p.m., ISP District 2 Troopers responded to the scene of a two-unit motor vehicle traffic crash involving four fatalities on Illinois 53 northbound at Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Upon arrival, Troopers learned the driver of a 2018 Black Jeep Wrangler, later identified as Graves, was traveling on Illinois 53 northbound at Kirchoff Road while a 2019 Blue Ford Fiesta was stopped on the right shoulder. For unknown reasons, Graves veered off the roadway to the right striking the rear of the Blue Ford. The impact forced both vehicles across all lanes of traffic before coming to rest on the left shoulder of the roadway. Graves was transported to Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver and all three passengers of the Blue Ford were pronounced deceased.
Killed were driver Stacy Harris, age 45, of Schaumburg, her 17-year-old son Jeremy Johnson, of Schaumburg; her sister Herlanda L. Harris, age 47, of Chicago; and Herlanda Harris’ 6-year-old son Jimarion Harris.
ISP DCI Agents initiated an investigation that culminated in the arrest of Graves for the offense of four counts for Aggravated DUI Involving death. On Feb. 22, 2021, Graves was taken into custody without incident by ISP DCI Agents. Graves had alcohol and marijuana in his system Saturday night when his black Jeep Wrangler struck a disabled blue Ford Fiesta on Route 53 in Rolling Meadows, killing all four occupants.
Prosecutors say Graves’ Jeep Wrangler was traveling more than 88 mph when it struck the Ford Fiesta about 11:33 p.m. Feb. 20. The car was parked on the northbound shoulder of Route 53 on the bridge over Kirchoff Road at the time of the crash. Harris was on the phone seeking roadside assistance, according to prosecutors.
Graves struck Harris’ vehicle “with such force both cars slid across all three lanes of traffic,” according to Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Nicole Murphy. A family member told CBS Chicago on Sunday that the force also broke a seat belt which caused the ejection of one of the victims.
On Feb. 24, 2021, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office approved four charges of Aggravated DUI Involving death (Class 2 Felony). Lamar C. Graves of Bellwood was ordered held on $450,000 bail Wednesday by Cook County Judge Ellen Mandeltort. Graves remains in custody at the Cook County Jail with a $450,000 (10% applies) bond. If convicted, Lamar C. Graves faces a sentence ranging from six to 28 years. He next appears in court March 12, 2021.
Details of the case were revealed in bond court.
About 50 minutes before the fatal crash, Illinois State Police received multiple reports of a black Jeep Wrangler stopped in a ditch on northbound Route 53 before Lake-Cook Road, but the Jeep was gone by the time troopers arrived.
Prosecutors disclosed cell phone text messages between Graves and his girlfriend that were sent between 10:50 p.m. and 10:53 p.m. about 40 minutes before the crash. In one text, the girlfriend remarks she is a little drunk. Graves responded via text, “you and me both.”
About 20 minutes before the crash (11:11 p.m.), an off-duty state trooper reported Graves’ speeding vehicle traveling east on I-290 near Route 83, weaving through traffic and almost striking a wall and two vehicles. The off-duty trooper estimated the vehicle’s speed at 95 mph and reported a description of the car and the license plate number. A “suspected DUI” callout was broadcast over the Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network (ISPERN), which alerted all police officers and state troopers monitoring ISPERN in the area.
Two witnesses traveling in another vehicle on Route 53 saw Graves’ Jeep Wrangler speed past them, swerve and nearly hit another car, then strike Harris’ car before coming to rest after hitting the concrete center J-Wall median.
As one of the witnesses approached Graves’ vehicle, Graves, the sole occupant in his Jeep Wrangler, inquired about the status of the occupants of the Ford Fiesta, State’s Attorney Nicole Murphy said. The witness told him “someone was dead.” Graves responded by re-entering his vehicle and attempting to start the engine.
The witnesses also observed Graves tossing a bottle of alcohol from his car. The toss was also captured by the Illinois State Police trooper’s squad car camera. Police recovered a shattered bottle of Maker’s Mark near the scene and a bag of cannabis next to the Wrangler.
Graves was treated for a fractured arm at Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. Blood drawn during his treatment showed a blood-alcohol level of .123 (legal threshold = .08). Grave’s urine revealed the presence of “cannabis metabolites,” according to Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Nicole Murphy.
The investigation is open and ongoing.
The public is reminded that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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