Trial date set for man charged in 2021 Sterling crash that killed businessman from Bureau County

Alan Thompson

MORRISON – A trial date is set for a Deer Grove man charged with aggravated DUI resulting in death in a head-on collision that took the life of the president of Astec Mobile Screens on Oct. 21, 2021, in Sterling.

Alan. E. Thompson Jr., 52, also was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a case filed on July 26, 2022.

Those cases will be combined at trial, which is set to begin March 19 in Whiteside County court before Judge Trish Senneff, court records show. Thompson hired Sterling defense attorney James Mertes.

Thompson faces three to seven years in prison if convicted of the DUI, and one to four years for the controlled substance charge.

Thompson, originally charged only with misdemeanor DUI, also is charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, improper lane usage, and failure to reduce speed, all misdemeanors or traffic offenses.

He was freed after posting $7,500 of his $75,000 bond on March 31, 2021.

According to the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department, Thompson was northbound on state Route 40 at Green River Bridge north of Osage Road around 5:30 p.m. when he crossed the center line and struck the southbound vehicle being driven by Timothy D. Gonigam, 58, of Walnut, in Bureau County.

Gonigam died at the scene.

Thompson was treated at OSF St. Anthony’s Medical Center in Rockford for unspecified injuries the release characterized as serious.

Gonigam, who worked for Astec Mobile Screens for 37 years, starting when it was Production Engineered Products in Walnut, was its president and general manager at the time of his death.

According to online court records, Thompson has a felony history in Whiteside County going back almost three decades.

In 2015, he was sentenced to four concurrent years on three counts of burglary; in 2005, he was sentenced to three years, six months – concurrent – on three counts of forgery; in 2004, he got two years for writing bad checks; and in 1997, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ probation, also for forgery, court records show.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.