Rocio Garza told police he “freaked out and left” after his car slammed into a man walking along Butterfield Road in Aurora early on Dec. 12, 2010.
Pedestrian Robert Vincze died shortly after the 4:30 a.m. crash, which police said occurred as the 30-year-old Michigan man and a friend pulled a sled carrying a gas can back to their stalled car.
The 23-year-old Garza on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of a fatal crash as part of a plea deal with DuPage County prosecutors.
The Elmhurst man faces a maximum 7-year prison term when he is sentenced later this year, though he also is eligible for probation.
Garza, who has a handful of prior traffic offenses, struck Vincze because he was momentarily distracted while fiddling with his car radio as he drove home from work, defense attorney Rich Heidecke said after the guilty plea.
“It’s tragic. He was changing radio stations,” Heidecke said.
Garza stopped briefly after hitting Vincze, but then told other people who had come to assist that he needed to move his car so it wasn’t blocking traffic.
Instead, Garza drove off, prosecutor Joe Lindt said.
Garza was arrested a few days later in Elmhurst and, when questioned by police, said he “freaked out” and drove away after the deadly crash, Lindt said.
Garza will remain in the DuPage County Jail until he is sentenced.