AP NEWS

Misdemeanor charges filed in crash where driver died hours later

May 12, 2019

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s Office is pursuing jail time for a driver involved in a two-vehicle crash in which the driver of the other vehicle died hours later from internal injuries in July 2018.

Austin P. O’Connor, of Bourbonnais, received tickets for driving with no valid driver’s license and driving a vehicle with no insurance involved in an accident causing bodily harm. Both offenses are punishable up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine. His next court date is June 6.

According to online Kankakee County court records, he is represented by Kankakee attorney Patrick O’Brien.

The 19-year-old O’Connor was issued the tickets the day of the crash (July 24, 2018) that occurred on Career Center Road in Bourbonnais.

The driver of the other vehicle, Jo Ann “Jodi” Tvrz, of Bourbonnais, died later that day as a result of internal injuries sustained.

According to Bourbonnais police, Tvrz was southbound on Career Center Road, and O’Connor was northbound at 5:01 a.m.

O’Connor’s vehicle went over the center line and into the southbound lane, striking Tvrz’s vehicle.

According to Deputy Chief Dave Anderson, Tvrz was alert at the scene. She had to be extricated from her car.

O’Connor was transported to the hospital with an arm injury.

“We are going to proceed (with the case). In any case which results in the death of a victim, we will seek jail time,” State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said.

“They did not know this was going to be a fatal accident,” he said.

Rowe and Assistant State’s Attorney Val Gunderson talked with Tvrz’s family this week, Rowe said.

Since July 2018, Rowe said there have been four prosecutors involved with the case. Bourbonnais police turned over their investigation report to the state’s attorney a month ago. The accident reconstruction report by Illinois State Police was the last report received.

Rowe said to file felony charges would require the offending driver to have been impaired, “and there is simply no evidence of that here,” he said.

Anderson said officers didn’t smell the odor of alcohol on O’Connor’s breath. Neither officers nor hospital personnel ordered blood and urine samples from either driver.

Anderson said he received word from the coroner’s office later on July 24 that Tvrz had died at the hospital. He said they contacted ISP to have a reconstruction team investigate since it became a fatal crash.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident,” Anderson said.

The crash has made Bourbonnais police rethink its procedures in such cases.