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Cook County forest worker was going 76 mph in 30 mph zone, had THC in system during fatal crash while on job: prosecutors

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by George Houde

Cook County forest worker was going 76 mph in 30 mph zone, had THC in system during fatal crash while on job: prosecutors

George HoudeChicago Tribune

A Cook County Forest Preserve employee was driving 2 ½ times beyond the speed limit while on the job last month when he plowed a dump truck into five stopped cars, killing one person and injuring 11 others, prosecutors said at a court hearing Thursday.

A Cook County judge set bail at $50,000 for Caleb Rallings, 20, of Hillside at the Rolling Meadows courthouse. Rallings, who is charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI involving death in the June 30 crash in Elk Grove Village, was not at Thursday’s hearing. He remains under guard and handcuffed to a bed at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge where he is being treated for a broken pelvis, authorities said.

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Assistant State’s Attorney Katherine Bird said at the hearing that Rallings’ blood contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, according to a test following the crash.

The crash occurred at Arlington Heights and Cosman roads. Prosecutors said the dump truck Rallings was driving was going 76 miles an hour in a 30 mph zone when it hit the other cars, which had stopped for a red light on Arlington Heights Road.

Giuseppe Gazzano, 44, of Bloomingdale, was killed, authorities said. Two other people suffered broken legs, authorities said. Eight others were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

Rallings was fired from his job July 5, forest preserve authorities said.

Amid video fallout, Cook County Forest Preserve District reveals fatal crash involving worker and government truck »

He was a seasonal employee for the forest preserve, who that morning was supervising a crew of four community service workers who said that Rallings was “acting out of it,” Bird said. The crew told police Rallings “deconstructed” his lunch sandwich and ate only the bread, she said.

When he began speeding and reached 81 mph, the crew repeatedly asked him to slow down, Bird said.

Rallings continued to speed northbound until the dump truck hit the line of cars waiting in the southbound lanes of Arlington Heights Road, Bird said. An Elk Grove Village police officer was nearby, heard the crash and drove to the scene, she said.

Rallings was hanging out of the driver’s side window as the officer checked on the injuries of the other drivers, Bird said. Rallings was able to extricate himself and began talking strangely, Bird said.

When one of the crew members pointed at Rallings and said the crash was his fault, Rallings became combative and had to be “taken to the ground” and subdued with a Taser, she said.

Rallings’ attorney, Kevin Halverson, told Judge Marc Martin that he expected Rallings to be able to attend his next hearing on Aug. 2.

George Houde is a freelance reporter.



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