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8-year prison sentence for Geneva man convicted of fatal 2017 DUI crash

Kane County sheriff's office | Facebook

A Geneva man was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for a DUI crash that killed his 19-year-old passenger in unincorporated St. Charles Township in the west suburbs.

Raphael Peruzza, 21, accepted the sentence after he pled guilty on Dec. 6, 2018, to aggravated driving under the influence that led to the death of Nicholas Hanson of Geneva, according to a statement from the Kane County state’s attorney.

Peruzza 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 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 his passenger Hanson inside the burning vehicle. Hanson 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 his $2 million bail.

Raphael Peruzza | Kane County sheriff’s office

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, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Peruzza’s aggravated DUI conviction was punishable by three to 14 years in prison or, under extraordinary circumstances, probation, the state’s attorney’s office said.

He must serve at least 85 percent of his eight-year sentence, the state’s attorney’s office said.

“Nicholas Hanson’s death, like every death caused by a drunken driver, was completely preventable,” Kane County state’s attorney Joe McMahon said. “This defendant made irresponsible and life-changing decisions to engage in criminal behavior when he chose to drink alcohol to a point of impairment and then drive, leading to a horrific and fatal crash.”