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Aurora man pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed 9-year-old girl

Anhony S. Potochney | Aurora police

An Aurora man pleaded guilty Friday to driving drunk and causing a crash that left a 9-year-old girl dead in January in the west suburb.

Anhony S. Potochney, 26, pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated DUI and failure to stop after an accident involving personal injury or death, according to the Kane County state’s attorney’s office.

Potechney could face a sentence between three and 14 years in prison, the state’s attorney’s office said.

About 9:10 p.m. on Jan. 16, Potochney was driving a 2003 Cadillac Deville south on Broadway Avenue near Pierce Street in downtown Aurora when the Deville drifted into the northbound lanes, a statement from Aurora police said.

The driver of a 2009 Toyota Sienna minivan in the northbound lanes tried to avoid the Cadillac by making a sharp turn to the left, but the Cadillac hit the minivan on its passenger side, police said. The minivan then crashed into a building on the west side of Broadway.

A passenger in the minivan, 9-year-old Katie Jonak of Aurora, was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 9:44 p.m., police said. They were on their way home from a play rehearsal when the crash happened, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Two other children in the minivan, ages 10 and 12, were also taken to Mercy with injuries, police said.

Katie’s mother, who was driving the minivan, refused medical treatment.

Potochney, of the 900 block of North Avenue in Aurora, ran away after the crash, but was taken into custody near the High Street Bridge that crosses the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, police said.

Officers said he smelled of alcohol and marijuana when he was apprehended, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Potochney was driving about 85 mph in a 35 mph zone before the crash, according to the state’s attorney’s office. His blood was drawn a few hours later at a hospital, and he had a blood-alcohol concentration of .193. THC was also present in his bloodstream.

Potochney admitted to police that he had drank six Coors Lights, four Captain Morgans and smoked marijuana the night of the crash, the state’s attorney’s office said.

He remains held at the Kane County Jail, the state’s attorney’s office said. His bond was revoked after he pleaded guilty.