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$750K bail for driver charged with reckless homicide of Downers Grove student

Elizabeth Dunlap | Source: Margaret Mahlke

Bail is set at three-quarters of a million dollars for a man charged with fatally striking a Downers Grove North High School student with a vehicle last week.

Joseph Kucharski, 51, appeared in court Tuesday morning before DuPage County Circuit Judge Liam Brennan, who set his bail at $750,000, according to a statement from the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office.

Kucharski, who lives in Naperville, is charged with one felony count each of aggravated DUI causing death and reckless homicide for the Feb. 19 crash that killed 17-year-old Elizabeth Dulap, authorities said.

Joseph Kucharski | DuPage County state’s attorney’s office

Dunlap, who was a student at Downers Grove North High School, was crossing Main Street at 10:55 a.m. in the crosswalk at Grant Street near the school when Kucharski’s vehicle barreled south through a red light and hit her, prosecutors said. She was pronounced dead on Friday.

“First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to Beth’s family and friends,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement. “They have suffered a devastating loss that no amount of time can heal. Their unimaginable heartbreak is shared by the staff and students at Downers Grove North High School as well as the entire community.”

Investigators determined that Kucharski’s blood alcohol content was 0.031 at the time of the crash, and he “exhibited signs of impairment when interviewed by police,” prosecutors said. Police also found two crack pipes, crack cocaine and other drugs in a hotel room where Kucharski had been staying.

He stayed at the scene and spoke to police following the crash and was taken into on Friday after a $5 million arrest warrant was issued, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Kucharski’s next court date was set for March 15, prosecutors said. If convicted, the charges against him are punishable by three to 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.