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Man pleads guilty to reckless driving after death of Aurora teen

Sun-Times file photo

An 18-year-old west suburban man has pleaded guilty to reckless driving in connection with the May death of his classmate, a 17-year-old boy who was days away from graduating from high school.

Jerin Martin of the 3000 block of Elleby Court in North Aurora agreed Thursday to a sentence of 12 months conditional discharge and 30 hours of community service in exchange for a guilty plea to reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor, according to a statement from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office. Circuit Judge Thomas Mueller accepted the plea.

About 3:45 p.m. May 13 — the last day of classes for seniors at Marmion Academy in Aurora — Martin was driving his 2011 black Acura MDX in the school’s parking lot in the 1000 block of Butterfield Road and towing students who were riding skateboards and holding onto his car, prosecutors said.

Stephen J. Woodcock was riding on the passenger side running board and holding on to the exterior of the car when Martin accelerated, then braked as he turned left, authorities said. Woodcock lost his grip and fell, striking his head on the pavement.

Martin told investigators he was driving about 10 mph, police said at the time. Martin and Woodcock were both students at the time of the incident.

Woodcock, of the 4N300 block of Booth Tarkington Street in St. Charles, was airlifted to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where he died three days later, police said.

“Marmion is deeply saddened by the death of senior Stephen Woodcock,” the academy posted on its Facebook page shortly after the incident. “He was greatly loved by all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Stephen at this time of loss.”

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said Woodcock’s death was preventable.

“As the state’s attorney, I have an obligation and an opportunity here,” McMahon said in the statement. “My obligation is to see that Mr. Martin, whose actions led to Stephen’s death, is held accountable for his criminal conduct. I commend him for accepting responsibility. My opportunity is to send a message of deterrence. Cars are not toys. Driving a car requires responsibility and caution. Stephen’s death was not intentional, but it was preventable. Recklessness has consequences.”