A Geneva man was convicted Thursday of a DUI crash that killed his 19-year-old passenger last year in unincorporated St. Charles Township in the west suburbs.
Raphael Peruzza, 20, was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee about 2:20 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2017, at a high speed southbound on Burr Road near Woodgate Road when it left the roadway and flipped over, according to a statement from the Kane County sheriff’s office. The Jeep came to a rest near a tree line on the east side of the road and caught fire.
Peruzza ran away from the wreck, leaving 19-year-old Nicholas Hanson of Geneva inside the burning vehicle. He was pronounced dead after officers found him at 5:40 a.m. and “unidentifiable” at first due to the crash, according to the Kane County coroner’s office.
The next day, Peruzza was arrested and charged later that week with felony counts of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI causing a fatality, the sheriff’s office said. Peruzza himself suffered non-life threatening injuries and was released from Kane County Adult Justice Center after posting for a $2 million bond.
Peruzza pleaded guilty to the aggravated DUI causing death charge on Thursday, the sheriff’s office said. An investigation found his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit, and he admitted to officers he had been drinking before getting behind the wheel.
His sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 30, 2019.
“Although Mr. Peruzza’s decision to plead guilty in this case relieves Nicholas Hanson’s family of having to live through the horrific details of the crash that killed him, it does not erase the fact that Mr. Peruzza made an incredibly irresponsible and criminal decision,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.