Drunken driver gets 9 years for causing 2008 wreck that seriously injured 14-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy

May 21

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced today that a Monee man has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for causing a drunken driving wreck that left two children horrifically injured.

Craig Smart, 22, of the 27800 block of South Kedzie, pleaded guilty on March 8 to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence in connection with the collision on July 19, 2008 on U.S. 45 near Peotone. Associate Judge Edward Burmila sentenced Smart on Friday afternoon.

Smart was driving a white Ford pickup truck that slammed into a van driven by a Champaign couple. They were returning home from O’Hare International Airport with their two children, who were ages 14 and 11 at the time. Smart’s truck rammed their van on the passenger side, causing it to flip on its side and skid to halt on the highway’s shoulder.

Smart told police he had been drinking with friends earlier in the evening. His blood-alcohol level tested at .10. He also tested positive for marijuana and a number of other prescription drugs that contained warnings not to use with alcohol. 

The father and mother were not seriously injured. However, their 11-year-old son, who was in a rear seat, suffered massive head trauma. He was transferred to Loyola Medical Center, where he underwent multiple surgeries in the following weeks and months. Surgeons eventually were forced to remove his right eye, which was damaged in the wreck. 

Their 14-year-old daughter also suffered injuries to her right foot. The skin, tendons, connective tissue and ligaments were ripped to the bone in the crash from the middle of her foot to above the ankle. She also underwent multiple surgeries, but her injuries are permanent and will prevent her from playing the sports she loved, including basketball, soccer and track.

“Two innocent children have been forced to pay a horrible price for Craig Smart’s selfish decision to drive his pickup truck while he was drunk,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “The injuries he caused were catastrophic and life-changing. He should spend every minute of his time in prison reflecting on the appalling harm he inflicted on this good family.”

Assistant State’s Attorneys Sara Shutts and Debbie Mills prosecuted Smart and argued at sentencing Friday that a substantial prison term was necessary to deter others from drinking and driving. The Illinois State Police investigated the case.