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Local

Judge: No prison term for driver on heroin who killed Minooka motorcyclist

Andrew Henderson
Andrew Henderson

JOLIET – A judge has ruled a Palos Park man will not serve time in prison for a 2012 Plainfield crash that killed a Minooka man and injured four people.

Andrew W. Henderson, 28, pleaded guilty two years ago to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence and was sentenced by Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes to nine years behind bars – but Henderson was placed on probation until he completed a residential substance abuse program.

“We have a young man who showed extraordinary circumstance by going above and beyond what he was ordered to do [while on probation],” defense attorney Jeff Tomczak said Monday.

While going through his treatment, Henderson has spoken to various groups about the effects of heroin use and counseled others seeking treatment, Tomczak said. Tomczak said probation officers testified to Alessio Policandriotes on Friday that Henderson’s efforts have been “exceptional.”

On July 14, 2012, Henderson was high on heroin and Vicodin when he dropped a milk bottle that lodged under the brake pedal of his Dodge Durango, according to court records. At County Line Road and Route 126, the Durango slammed into a Nissan Altima occupied by a family of four and pushed into the path of an oncoming motorcycle ridden by Ronald Oswald, 57, of Minooka, who was killed.

The man and two children in the Altima suffered minor injuries while his wife suffered a fractured hip and four broken ribs in the crash.

Oswald was an active member of the Will County ABATE, A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education, which promotes motorcycle safety and legislation to protect riders.

The victim here was extraordinary. Mr. Henderson has [since] tried to be as extraordinary as he can with the tools he’s been given,” Alessio Policandriotes said.

Henderson spent two years and three months in jail before being released into drug treatment. His recent completion of treatment required the judge to rule on a defense motion filed two years ago to reconsider her original sentence. Henderson will remain on probation until September 2018.

“He is dedicating his life to keep others away from the dangers of heroin,” Tomczak said.

Diane McClimon, Oswald’s daughter, wrote last week in an email to The Herald-News that she was unhappy with a lighter sentence for someone who “killed [one person] and injured an entire family ... and hasn’t served any prison time.” McClimon could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

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