Driver who killed woman on horse pleads guilty
BY JON SEIDEL Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org January 9, 2012 10:52AM
Updated: February 11, 2012 8:11AM
Nine months after a drunken driver killed Michelle Eustis as she took an early morning horse ride with a friend at Balmoral Park, her father said he can’t get her death out of his mind.
“I think about this every day of the week,” Chuck Eustis III said. “I go see my daughter at her grave site every day of the week.”
He said his 7-year-old granddaughter, Hayley, is doing all right despite losing her mother, but things are “totally different.” He suspects they’ll stay that way at least until 42-year-old Angus Lake of Riverdale, Mich., is sentenced.
Lake pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated driving while under the influence of alcohol, a prosecutor said. He did so about 10 minutes before he was scheduled to go on trial for the crash that killed Eustis, a 25-year-old horse trainer from Crete, and injured 21-year-old Heather France of Three Rivers, Mich.
He faces up to 14 years in prison, and Will County Judge Richard Schoen-
stedt set a sentencing date of March 15.
Lake’s plea apparently came as a surprise, as France said prosecutors flew her to Chicago from West Palm Beach, Fla., anticipating a trial.
Lake’s blood-alcohol level after the accident was 0.147, prosecutors said, nearly twice the legal limit.
They’ve also said Lake was engaged to Eustis, but her father has said that’s not true.
Lake had “five or six shots” before he went looking for France and Eustis at the Crete racetrack April 11, prosecutors said. The women left a gathering in a barn to ride a horse named Rendezvous. Lake’s truck came upon them on Backstretch Road shortly after 5 a.m.
“We should probably get off to the side more,” France said she told Eustis when Lake’s white Dodge Ram appeared behind them, “because I don’t know if he can see us.”
Lake hit the brakes hard, prosecutors said, and his truck started to spin. He hit the horse and left a gouge in its back.
Both women were thrown from the animal, and Eustis suffered head trauma and died. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled her death an accident.