Aurora woman indicted in May 2009 fatal crash

By on May 19, 2010

Kane County—An Aurora woman has been indicted for her role in a May 2009 crash on Route 47 in which two people were killed and several others were injured.

Alia N. Bernard, 25, of the 1500 block of West Galena Boulevard, Aurora, was indicted Tuesday by a Kane County grand jury on two counts of reckless homicide, each a Class 3 felony, and one count of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor.

Bernard surrendered Wednesday morning at the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, posted $5,000 bond and was released. Bernard was ordered to appear at 9 a.m. June 2, in Courtroom 217 in front of Associate Judge James C. Hallock.

According to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred at about 8:20 a.m. May 23, 2009, at the intersection of Route 47 and Smith Road in Blackberry Township south of Elburn.

A vehicle in the southbound lane on Route 47 had stopped to turn left onto Smith Road, waiting for several northbound motorcycles to pass. Two additional southbound vehicles had stopped behind it. A fourth southbound vehicle, a 1999 Toyota Solara driven by Bernard, approached and struck the third vehicle in the rear.

The collision created a chain reaction that ultimately pushed the first vehicle into the path of the oncoming motorcycles. A 2000 Harley-Davidson Softtail struck the first vehicle, and the motorcycle’s driver, Wade Thomas, 44, of St. Charles, and the passenger, his wife, Denise Thomas, 45, also of St. Charles, were killed.

According to the indictment, Bernard was acting recklessly, performing acts likely to cause the death or great bodily harm to some individual in that she operated a motor vehicle while failing to keep a proper look out, and thereby caused the deaths of Wade and Denise Thomas. The indictment further states that Bernard had marijuana in her system at the time of the crash.

Bernard was given a traffic citation at the time for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. However, that charge was dropped while authorities awaited the results of toxicology tests, which took several months to be returned, and while the Kane County Sheriff’s Office continued to investigate the case.

If convicted of the most serious charges, Bernard faces a sentence of probation or two to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The charges against Bernard are not proof of guilt. Bernard is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the state’s burden to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.