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Trial Begins for Semi Driver in Accident That Injured Oswego State Trooper

Feb 26, 2015 08:52AM ● Published by Steven Jack

The bench trial of the man accused of last year driving his semi into the scene of a broken down vehicle along I-88 began in DuPage County court Wednesday. 

The accident, which severely injured Oswego resident and state trooper Doug Balder, also killed Tollway worker Vincenzo Petrella, who was also responding to the scene of the broken down vehicle.

Taped interviews with semi driver Renato Velasquez after the Jan. 27, 2014 accident were played Wednesday during his trial on felony charges of driving a commercial vehicle over legal limits and falsifying driving records. According to a Chicago Tribune report, Velasquez told investigators after the accident that “maybe I got a little sleepy.”

Velasquez also told investigators that he never saw the emergency lights and flares that had been set out at the scene before crashing into it, the Tribune reported. Before the accident, Velasquez had spent the past 37 of 40 hours working, prosecutors allege. 

Velasquez's attorney Wednesday moved to have the charges dropped because he said prosecutors failed to prove he had falsified his driving records in Illinois or that he was driving while fatigued. 

If the judge should not rule to dismiss the charges, the Tribune reports that closing arguments may be heard Thursday.

In a press conference on the one-year anniversary of the accident, Balder said he believes Velasquez should have been charged with reckless homicide. Balder has spent the past year recovering from a broken shoulder, brain injuries and severe burns. He spent the first six weeks after the accident in a drug-induced coma. 

"We can't even get (the DuPage County State's Attorney) to charge him with involuntary manslaughter/reckless homicide," Balder said at the January press conference. "It's disturbing. If anything we should be able to set a precedent for the future. It will happen again, and we're trying to prevent that. No one should have to go through what I've gone through." 


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