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Chicago man admits DUI in crash that killed motorist, injured trooper

Daniel Clark / Phofrom DuPage County Sheriff's office

Daniel Clark / Photo from DuPage County Sheriff's office

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Updated: July 22, 2013 6:31PM

Daniel Clark had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he plowed into a parked Illinois State Police car, killing a stranded motorist sitting inside the squad car and seriously injuring a trooper.

The Chicago man faces a maximum 12-year prison term after pleading guilty Monday to felony DUI charges stemming from the deadly crash on the I-290 extension near Addison.

The Feb. 11, 2012 crash killed 42-year-old Frank Caruso, who was waiting in the squad car for a tow truck to arrive after his SUV had been disabled minutes earlier in a minor collision.

Caruso’s mother and several other relatives said after the hearing they were relieved Clark had acknowledged causing the fatal crash.

“I’m happy he’s taking responsibility,” said Caruso’s older sister, Anna Marie. “I hope it’s for the right reason — because he feels remorse.”

Clark was driving east on the I-290 extension about 1:20 a.m. when his Chevy Malibu rear-ended the police cruiser stopped in the left lane with its emergency lights flashing, DuPage County prosecutors said.

The crash spun the police car so forcefully the impact pinned Caruso inside and hurled the trooper into the rear seat, prosecutors said.

Caruso, a painter who had been on his way home to suburban Brookfield, had to be extricated from the heavily-damaged police car. He was pronounced dead a short time later at a suburban hospital.

The trooper suffered head injuries and was on medical leave for several weeks, prosecutors said during Clark’s court hearing.

Blood tests following the crash showed Clark had a blood-alcohol level of .20 — about 2 ½ times higher than the .08 legal limit.

As part of his plea deal, the 34-year-old Clark faces a maximum 12-year prison term. He could be placed on probation, but that would require Clark to prove there were special circumstances precluding a prison term.

Caruso’s relatives said Clark deserves a prison sentence for his actions.

“The punishment will never fit the crime,” said Anna Marie Caruso, 51. “We don’t really want to see anyone go to jail, but he does need to take responsibility. No one forced alcohol down his throat.”

Caruso’s father, Frank Sr., had died just 18 days before the crash — leaving relatives grieving the sudden loss of two family members.

Caruso has one adult son and had celebrated the birth of a grandson barely two months before his death, relatives said.

“He loved that baby,” said Caruso’s mother, Mary Ann Caruso, recalling how her son had a “smile that could light up a room.”

Judge Kathryn Creswell deferred Clark’s sentencing until October. Clark, who worked as a salesman at the time of the crash, remains free on bail.

Defense attorney John Donahue declined to comment on the case, except to say: “it’s a tragic situation.”

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