Deer Grove man sentenced to 180 days in jail, probation for aggravated DUI that killed Sterling businessman

Alan Thompson

MORRISON – A Deer Grove man has been sentenced to 180 days in jail and four years of probation after pleading guilty to driving under the influence and causing a head-on crash that killed a Sterling businessman.

Alan. E. Thompson Jr., 52, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated driving under the influence and was sentenced Wednesday afternoon in Whiteside County Court in connection with the collision that took the life of Timothy D. Gonigam, president of Astec Mobile Screens, on Oct. 21, 2021, in Sterling.

Thompson, originally charged only with misdemeanor DUI, also pleaded guilty to improper lane use Wednesday. Charges of driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and failure to reduce speed were dismissed as part of a plea deal. He also was fined $26,000 and must pay $17,208 in restitution.

Thompson was scheduled to go to trial on the charges Tuesday, but the trial was canceled when the plea date was set, according to court records.

According to the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office, Thompson was northbound on state Route 40 at Green River Bridge north of Osage Road about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21, 2021, when he crossed the center line and struck a southbound vehicle being driven by Gonigam, 58, of Walnut.

Gonigam died at the scene. Thompson was treated at OSF St. Anthony’s Medical Center in Rockford for unspecified injuries.

Gonigam worked for Astec Mobile Screens for 37 years, starting when it was Production Engineered Products in Walnut. He 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 of 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 2 ½ years’ probation, also for forgery, court records show.

Thompson also was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a case filed July 26, 2022. That case remains open, however, and court records indicate prosecutors will ask for the charge to be dismissed.

Thompson faced three to seven years in prison if convicted of the DUI, and one to four years for the controlled substance charge. Thompson is represented by Sterling defense attorney James Mertes.

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Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.