News

Woodstock man sentenced to 6 years in prison for DUI that killed a husband, father whose ‘life was unfinished’

Inset of Andres Carbajal-Bernal in front of Northwest Herald file photo of the McHenry County courthouse.

A 29-year-old Woodstock man was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2020 when he crashed into the back of another vehicle, killing a Lake in the Hills man.

As the widow of 48-year old Jesus Iniguez looked on in tears, Andres Carbajal-Bernal entered into a negotiated guilty plea to one count of aggravated driving under the influence causing a death, a Class 2 felony that can carry a prison term of three to seven years.

In exchange for his guilty plea, which McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge said was agreed to by the Iniguez’s family, one count each of reckless homicide and driving under the influence of the combined influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating compounds and two additional counts of aggravated driving under the influence were dismissed, according to court documents.

Under the the state’s truth-in-sentencing guidelines, Carbajal-Bernal is required to serve 85% of his sentence and will receive credit the 625 days he has spent in jail. After his prison term, he will be on mandatory supervised release for two years and is required to pay $2,394.25 in fees and fines.

During the sentencing hearing, Iniguez’s widow and mother of their two young children, tearfully read from prepared impact statements from her sons and herself.

One son said when Carbajal-Bernal killed his father, it was as if he “dropped a bomb on my life [creating] a crater that can’t be filled.”

He said his father was “an incredible person” with many talents and was his “biggest inspiration.”

“I have no idea what to do with my life now,” he said.

His brother wrote that losing his dad makes him “feel like my life is ruined.” He said he misses his father’s cooking and his energy and wishes he could do things with his father like golfing, fishing and traveling. He looked up to his father and said he was “one of the most important people in my life.”

Iniguez’s widow, whose voice often was hard to hear through her sobs, said for the last 20 years, Iniguez was “the love of my life ... my partner, my support system, my whole world.” She said he came to the U.S. from Mexico, became a citizen, and was “the most determined and courageous man I have ever known.”

He “embraced the opportunities this country gave him,” she said. He was loving, generous and hard-working and she thought they would spend the rest of their lives together.

“He was the center of our world,” she said. “The night he died he was coming home to us. ... His life was not finished.”

About 8:45 p.m. Aug. 24, 2020, authorities said Carbajal-Bernal was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he drove a Chevrolet Cruz south on Route 47 near Hebron and crashed into the back of the Hyundai Santa Fe driven by Iniguez.

The impact sent both southbound vehicles off the roadway to the west, according to a news release at the time. Iniguez’s vehicle struck a tree and Carbajal-Bernal’s vehicle overturned.

Iniguez was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the release.

Coppedge told Carbajal-Bernal, whose family members also attended Wednesday’s sentencing, that everyone in the courtroom who is a parent, has been impacted by Iniguez’s family impact statements.

Whether he was sentenced to prison for the maximum of 14 years or the six agreed to, “at some point you will finish and be released and continue your life,” Coppedge said. “The same cannot be said for” Iniguez’s widow and children.

The impact Carbajal-Bernal made on this family likely is “irreparable in every way,” Coppedge said.