Witness: Car going 100, weaving before fatal crash
By Dave Gathman firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2012 8:48PM
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:20AM
BURLINGTON — An Elgin teenager allegedly was driving at least 100 mph and swerving in and out of traffic before his car flipped over on Plank Road on the Sunday before Labor Day, killing one of his passengers and seriously injuring another, according to a court document that quotes witnesses to the crash. And two of the teens reportedly had marijuana in their possession.
But no criminal or traffic charges have yet been lodged against anyone in the case.
The witness statements appear in an affidavit requesting a search warrant, filed by Kane County sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 7. They wanted permission to search the wrecked car, which was then being stored at the sheriff’s office in St. Charles Township, for possible illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and DNA traces that might substantiate who had been sitting where in the vehicle. Judge Karen Simpson approved the search warrant, but what the searchers found has not been made public.
Deputies believe the vehicle, a gold 2007 Lincoln MKZ, was westbound on Plank west of Engel Road at about 12:47 a.m. when it went off the left side of the road, rolled over at least once and struck a tree, coming to rest on the car’s left side. Deputies found Lawrence Echols, 17, of Elgin dead in the left back seat, and 19-year-old Shadontre Smith of South Elgin trapped in the right back seat.
After being cut out of the car, Smith was flown by helicopter to Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, suffering from, according to the court affidavit, “numerous facial, neck and upper-body lacerations and contusions.”
Not found in the car were the driver, believed to be 17-year-old Shannon Hill of Elgin, or his front-seat passenger, 17-year-old Jamiah Harrison of Elgin. Despite an extensive search, the two were not located until about 10 hours later, in the emergency room of Elgin’s Sherman Hospital to be treated for some minor injuries. The teens told investigators they had walked there all the way from the crash scene, which is about 14 or 15 miles away.
According to the affidavit, staffers in the Condell emergency room found marijuana in Smith’s clothing, and an assistant coroner found 7 grams of marijuana in plastic bags stuffed into the underpants of the dead Echols.
According to the affidavit, two witnesses who also were driving westbound along Plank saw the Lincoln stopped in the roadway about a quarter-mile east of Burlington at about 12:30 a.m. They said it was parked alongside a sport-utility vehicle.
As they passed through Burlington and continued westward on Plank, the witnesses told investigators, the Lincoln came up behind them at what hey estimated to be at least 100 mph, passed them on the left side and cut back into the right lane so fast that the two cars bumped. The witnesses said they saw the Lincoln then do the same thing to a car ahead of them. They said they were just starting to dial 911 to report the reckless driving when they saw that the Lincoln had crashed.
The witnesses told deputies that music was blaring loudly from the overturned car and that Echols’ body was trapped partly underneath it.
The witnesses said Hill and Harrison were already standing outside the car. They said Hill told them, “I screwed up bad” or “I messed up bad.” They said Hill reached into the car, switched off the music, took an unknown object out of the glove box, and walked away with Harrison after hearing that the witnesses had called 911.
At about the time of the crash, the affidavit adds, another, unidentified driver along Plank Road called the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office to report that a car with almost exactly the same license number as Hill’s had passed her car, too, at high speed and was “swerving all over the road.”
Kane County sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler said Tuesday that no charges have been filed yet because the investigation is still incomplete. “The accident reconstruction report isn’t done, we don’t have the toxicology reports yet, and we are still interviewing witnesses,” Gengler said. “When that’s all done, we’ll review the facts with the state’s attorney’s office and decide what charges are warranted.”