Jennifer Anton escaped with her own life on May 21, when a pickup truck driven by a drunk Streets and Sanitation worker ran her down on a Gold Coast sidewalk.
The young nanny also was able to save the toddler in her charge by shoving her stroller out of the way.
But the Kansas City transplant, who moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University and then never went home, couldn’t tell the judge who was sentencing Dwight Washington how her life’s been ruined, her body disfigured. She could make it through only the first line of her statement before her tears made her stop.
“I feel like my body was taken away from me … and replaced by that of someone three times my age,” Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Vojta then read on her behalf.
Anton, then 25, was run down a little after noon, along with six other people, at the three-way-intersection of Rush, Cedar and State streets. Washington, then a Streets and Sanitation laborer, jumped the curb and plowed into a group of people on the sidewalk.
Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Anne Sheahan confirmed Friday that Washington was fired 10 days after the accident.
As several of his victims and their families listened, Washington, 62, pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated driving under the influence Friday. He’ll learn on Wednesday how many years he’ll spend in prison. Judge James B. Linn wanted to take the statements of the victims, as well as Washington’s family circumstances, into consideration before issuing a sentence.
Police said Washington had an open bottle of brandy next to him in the city Ford F-150 pickup he was driving when he lost control and hit the people, some of whom were models in a wedding photo shoot.
Washington’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Monique Patterson, said he was suddenly called into work that day, and feared losing his job if he told his supervisor he had already been drinking. His wife isn’t well and can’t work, Patterson said in asking for leniency. His younger son is 17.
And he pleaded guilty, admitting responsibility, because he didn’t want to put anyone through a trial, she said.
Washington, whose family sat in court, declined the judge’s offer to speak. Patterson apologized on his behalf.
Vojta cited Washington’s lack of apology in arguing for a stiff sentence. Washington faces up to 48 years in prison.
“You, judge, gave him a chance to say he was sorry and he didn’t,” Vojta said.
Afterward, Anton said she has undergone 12 surgeries so far and expects to have more. And as hard as it is for her to talk about the crash, she had to write about its impact.