JOLIET – Ronald Oswald, the motorcycle rider killed two years ago in a Plainfield crash caused by a driver on drugs, died doing what he loved.
"Ronald Oswald loved to ride," his friend Barbara Fitzpatrick said Monday at the sentencing hearing for the other driver. "He was like a father figure ... and got me more involved with the motorcycling community."
About 3 p.m. July 14, 2012, Oswald, 57, of Minooka, was on his way to meet Fitzpatrick and other riders for a soldier being deployed when he approached County Line Road on Route 126.
Andrew W. Henderson, 26, of Palos Park, had heroin and Vicodin in his system when his Dodge Durango rear-ended a Nissan Altima that was stopped to turn onto County Line Road. The impact pushed the car into Oswald's path and he was thrown from the bike.
Henderson pleaded guilty in May to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs. In exchange, other traffic and DUI charges have been dropped and prosecutors have agreed not to seek more than a nine-year prison sentence from Judge Carla Policandriotes. Henderson could be sentenced from probation up to 14 years behind bars.
"I caught a glimpse of something going by and heard a loud crash. Then I heard another loud crash and then a loud thud. I saw the vehicle that hit the Nissan start rolling over and [Henderson] being ejected," Jeffrey Duncan, a witness to the crash, testified Monday.
Duncan, an Army veteran with first aid training, went to Oswald, while a nurse who also witnessed the crash tended to the Nissan's occupants. The man who was driving and two children in the back seat had minor injuries.
A woman riding in the passenger seat suffered a fractured hip, four broken ribs and a serious injury to her foot.
Fitzpatrick said Oswald was an active member of the Will County ABATE, A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education, which promotes motorcycle safety and legislation to protect riders.
"He was very much about safety. He loved to take new riders out. I've ridden for 30 years, but he taught me how to ride the right way," Fitzpatrick said.
Judge Policandriotes said Monday she will consider testimony about the crash before deciding a sentence for Henderson next week.