Man charged in connection to fatal Lake Shore Drive crash
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN, SAM CHARLES AND MITCHELL ARMENTROUT Staff Reporters May 3, 2014 10:40AM
Laura Anne LaPlante, of Hancock, New Hampshire, was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital at 6:33 p.m. Friday.
Updated: June 5, 2014 5:08PM
A Chicago man is facing charges after police identified him as the drunk, wrong-way driver whose vehicle collided with a taxi early Friday on Lake Shore Drive, killing one person and seriously injuring two others.
Erik Johnson, 23, is charged with one felony count of aggravated DUI causing an accident or death, two felony counts of aggravated DUI causing an accident or bodily harm, one misdemeanor count of DUI and improper use of a controlled access highway, according to a statement from Chicago Police.
About 2 a.m. Friday, Johnson was allegedly driving a 2014 Subaru SUV southbound in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive near Randolph Street when the vehicle struck a taxi head-on as it was carrying two passengers, authorities said.
Laura Anne LaPlante, 26, of Hancock, New Hampshire, was in the cab and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. Friday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
A 24-year-old man in the cab and its 38-year-old driver were also taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, authorities said at the time. The 24-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries, police said Sunday.
Johnson was also hurt in the crash and was initially in serious-to-critical condition at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County before he was released.
LaPlante was a University of Chicago Law School student and was on track to graduate this summer, according to Steve Koppes, a university spokesman. University officials said the 24-year-old passenger is also a student at the law school.
“Laura was a leader in her class, the president of the Federalist Society, treasurer for the Law School Republicans and an active member of the St. Thomas More Society, the Law Women’s Caucus, and the Edmund Burke Society,” Michael H. Schill, the dean of the University of Chicago Law School wrote in an email to members of the law school community.
“She spent last summer as an associate at WilmerHale in Boston, and was to join the firm as an associate in the fall. She was well-known at the Law School for her warmth and kindness, always the first to volunteer to help out at an event or to help a friend, always with a smile for everyone,” Schill said.
LaPlante’s family was not immediately available for comment Saturday afternoon.
Schill asked people keep her family and friends in their thoughts.
“I cannot make sense of the passing of such a wonderful, vital young woman who would surely have done so much in her life to make the world a better place. At the same time, during Laura’s short time on earth she made an impact. Laura left each of us better human beings than we would have been in her absence,” Schill said.
“Her friendship, engagement and love enriched us. The outpouring of love and care not just for Laura, [the male passenger], and their families, but for each other that has taken place since this awful event occurred last night has been an inspiration. We will need to tap into the special closeness that we feel for each other as we move forward over the next days and weeks helping each other through our grief.”
Johnson, of the 3500 block of North Janssen Avenue, will appear in bond court Sunday, police said.