DUI Driver that Caused Crash that Killed 2 Women on Higgins Rd Near Beverly Rd Sentenced to 23 Years

Michael Kelley, convicted Aggravated DUI Causing Death (law enforcement booking photo)
Michael Kelley, convicted Aggravated DUI Causing Death (law enforcement booking photo).

VIDEO: Fatal Crash investigation at Higgins Road and Beverly Road in Hoffman Estates.

Michael Kelley, 50, of West Dundee, received a sentence of 23 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated DUI causing death in a crash at Higgins Road (Route 72) and Beverly Road near Hoffman Estates and Barrington Township that occurred Friday, August 3, 2018 just before 9:37 p.m. Kelley must serve at least 85% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Mary Kendzior, 82, and her daughter Lisa Kendzior, 50, died in a high-speed crash while Kelley drove his pickup truck the wrong way with his headlights off on Higgins Road. He hit the women’s vehicle head-on at 83 mph near Beverly Road. Mary Kendzior and Lisa Kendzior were extricated from their wrecked vehicle with cutter and spreader tools by Hoffman Estates firefighters. Both women were extricated about 10:20 p.m. — one before the other. A Flight for Life helicopter was assigned to the scene, and was already waiting in a landing zone nearby before extrication was completed. The Flight for Life helicopter lifted off from the landing zone about 10:40 p.m. Paramedics discovered Lisa Kendzior had no pulse, and she was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital. Mary Kendzior died a few hours later at Level 1 Trauma Center Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

According to Assistant State’s Attorney Glendon Runk, the black box (the EDR or Event Data Recorder) from Kelley’s vehicle indicated that Michael Kelley did not apply his brakes until 0.5 second before impact.

Earlier before the crash, Kelley was driving eastbound on Higgins Road. He sideswiped another vehicle, knocking off a side mirror. The hit-and-run victim driver followed Kelley’s red GMC Sierra pickup truck while another occupant dialed 911 and reported a suspected DUI driver. The license plate number on the GMC Sierra was also reported. Kelley made a U-turn on Higgins Road at Prairie Stone Parkway, and headed westbound on Higgins Road on the grassy median for about a half mile. He then entered the eastbound lanes of Higgins Road with his headlights off. Beverly Road is about 5,000 feet west of Prairie Stone Parkway. Kelley struck the Kendziors’ car at about 9:36 p.m. on Higgins Road near Beverly Road, which is just west of the Sears campus. The red pickup truck rolled to its side, and both vehicles were destroyed on the dark stretch of Higgins Road. The women were unresponsive in their vehicle.

The Major Case Assistance Team (Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction) or MCAT-STAR team were assigned to work with the Hoffman Estates Police Department to investigate the crash and gather evidence.

Kelly had three previous DUI convictions before the fatal crash in Hoffman Estates.

Cook County Judge Steven Goebel said he was shocked by the facts of the case, especially Kelley’s .300 blood alcohol content, which is nearly four times the .08 legal threshold. Goebel described the level as “astronomical, rising to the stars.”

“You chose to drive a very large vehicle in a very drunken and maniacal manner.” Judge Goebel told Kelley that he attempted to prevent another DUI arrest and in the process extinguished “the lives of two members of a loving family.”

“There is a lot of pain in this courtroom and a lot of suffering. I hope the sentence I’m about to impose serves to deter others from acting in the same maniacal manner as you did.”

— Cook County Judge Steven Goebel

Amy Collar described her mother, Mary, as a woman of faith, the mother of nine and a loving grandmother who was “beautiful inside and out.” She explained at the sentencing hearing that she died clutching her rosary. Collar described her sister and maid-of-honor Lisa Kendzior as an artistically gifted woman with “a contagious laugh and smile” who loved her nieces and nephews.

Victoria Moran, granddaughter and niece, said the victims were “the glue that held my crazy family together. So much was taken from us. … They had more to do.”

Mary Kendzior’s son-in-law Thomas Moran said the women were also beloved members of the community … more than 1,000 people who attended their funeral.

Kelley’s attorney Sam Amirante said his client has expressed remorse daily since the accident. He said, “There is no punishment that anyone can impose that he hasn’t already imposed upon himself.”

Kelley said he spent the last two years searching for the words to apologize. Kelley said in court, “I came to the conclusion there are no words to apologize for what I’ve done. I can’t see how Jesus can forgive me when I can’t forgive myself.”

Michael Kelley, convicted Aggravated DUI Causing Death (law enforcement booking photo)
Michael Kelley, convicted Aggravated DUI Causing Death (law enforcement booking photo).

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