SYCAMORE – Daniel J. Chavez hung his head during a hearing to set his bond for a charge of aggravated DUI resulting in death, until a DeKalb County judge ruled he be released on his own recognizance.
Chavez, 25, who recently moved from Rochelle to an apartment in the 800 block of West Taylor Street in DeKalb, was driving a gold 2006 Jeep Laredo east on Lincoln Highway shortly after midnight Sunday when it crossed into the westbound lane and crashed into a 1998 Toyota Camry driven by 23-year-old Sai Kumar Adluru, a master's student at Northern Illinois University who was pronounced dead at the scene, court records show.
A GoFundMe page has raised $40,238, more than twice its goal, to help Adluru's family with the expenses of returning his body to his homeland, a funeral and other expenses.
DeKalb County Sheriff's Office deputies said in court records that they found a glass pipe with suspected marijuana resin, as well as a metal grinder with traces of suspected marijuana, in Chavez's Jeep. Tests at Kishwaukee Hospital found his blood-alcohol content to be 0.076, and his urine positive for marijuana, records show. Chavez was arrested at the hospital at 4:46 a.m. Sunday.
Chavez also is charged with two counts of aggravated DUI causing great bodily harm. Aggravated DUI is a Class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in prison, but with death or great bodily harm involved, sentence ranges can increase.
Assistant State’s Attorney Alesandra Friend asked that Chavez’s bond be set at $250,000.
“The defendant has never been convicted of any criminal offenses in the past – the purpose of bond being to ensure the defendant show up in court,” Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert said. “There’s been no failure to appears, as well. The court is also to take into consideration the ability of the individual to post bond.”
A pretrial services report shows that Chavez earns $9 an hour, moved from Rochelle to his apartment two weeks ago, and is separated from his spouse.
“My concern is that’s there’s no avenue or indication of how he would be coming to court,” Stuckert said. “Family members were unsure how he would get here for future court dates. Taking all that into consideration, he’ll be released on a $20,000 recognizance bond."
Chavez was placed on electronic home monitoring.
Both vehicles were found in the north ditch of Lincoln Highway, court records show, and Adluru’s passenger, Charishma Dudde, 23, of DeKalb, was taken to Kishwaukee Hospital then flown to Rockford Memorial Hospital, where she underwent surgery and is in fair condition.
Chavez’s passenger, Orlando Hernandez, 26, of the 3500 block of South 52nd Court, Cicero, was taken to Kishwaukee Hospital and ended up with a fractured rib, court records show. Everyone was wearing seat belts, police said.
Chavez will be back in court for a status hearing at 9 a.m. June 9 and will have a preliminary hearing July 7.
Adluru came to NIU in spring 2016 and was a student in the master's program in electrical engineering, according to the NIU Indian Student Association's Facebook page. He also was a member of the association's cricket team and was set to graduate in December.