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Driver Gets $1,500 Fine, Community Service in Crash that Disabled Downers Grove Teen

Parents of 14-year-old Hunter Himes say he won't recover from injuries sustained in February, when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle home from a friend's house.

It's been nine months since 14-year-old Hunter Himes was struck by a car while riding his bike in Darien, and for the first time, his family is feeling some sense of closure.

Hunter, who would have been a freshman at Downers Grove South this fall, was left in a persistent vegetative state from brain injuries suffered in the accident. His parents, Mark and Terra Ihde, put him on hospice this week after learning he would not recover.

For the past several months, the Ihdes have been attending court hearings for the driver in the crash, Timothy J. Hagan, who pleaded not guilty to failing to yield to a pedestrian. 

The Ihdes were joined Thursday by several family members at the DuPage County Field Court in Downers Grove for Hagan's long-awaited bench trial. During the hearing, Hagan's attorney, Jeff MacKay, claimed Hunter rode into Hagan's Honda Ridgeview while he was waiting to turn right onto Lemont Road from Beller Road. 

After about an hour of testimony and deliberation, however, Judge Robert E. Douglas found Hagan guilty of failure to yield. He was given the maximum sentence of 300 hours of community service, and issued a $1,500 fine.

Hunter's family cried and held each other close as the judge read his verdict.

"I know there is no penalty stiff enough ... Nothing will bring Hunter back," Douglas said. "But please know I gave everything I could give in this case."

Though the Ihdes expressed some sense of relief after the trial, they angrily questioned why the case was brought to trial in the first place.

"My family and I have been dragged through the mud for months, all because this man didn't want to take responsibility for his actions," Terra said. "It's a joke, especially when you consider the fact that he's walking away with a fine and community service, and we're left without Hunter."

Hagan: "I Pray for Hunter Every Single Day"

During his testimony Thursday, Hagan told the court he was driving his two sons to a restaurant when he struck Hunter, who was riding back to his Downers Grove home after visiting a friend in Darien.

Hagan was traveling eastbound on Beller Road when he approached the stop sign at Lemont Road. He claimed he stopped and looked both ways as he waited for traffic to clear, then pulled up past the white line to get a better view of traffic from the north.

With his truck mostly obstructing the area between sidewalks, Hagan claimed he looked both ways and didn't see any pedestrians. After about 45 seconds, he felt a bump, he said, prompting him to briefly release his brake and move forward two feet.

When Hagan got out of his truck, he found Hunter trapped under his front right tire. Hagan called the police, then "sat on the ground, held the boy's hand and said a prayer," he told the judge.

When the SUV struck him, Hunter’s head slammed into the ground, resulting in injuries akin to shaken baby syndrome. He was transported to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.

Hagan, meanwhile, was transported to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, where he was questioned by Darien Police Officer Doug Rummick. During his testimony, Rummick told the judge Hagan was "visibly upset," and was given anxiety medication to calm his nerves. He was also administered tests for drugs and alcohol, both of which he passed.

Although Hagan claimed he never put his foot on the accelerator, Rummick said in his report that Hagan admitted to accelerating slightly after feeling a bump.

Oak Brook Detective Benjamin Kadolph investigated the crash with the DuPage Felony Investigation Assistance Team. He testified that despite Hagan's claims, the damage to the vehicle and reconstruction of the scene indicated Hunter was in front of the truck when he was hit.

Because Darien allows bicycles on sidewalks and crosswalks, Hagan was responsible for stopping, not Hunter, police said.

In his closing statement, Hagan's attorney argued Hunter was in violation of an Illinois statute, which states that pedestrians should not suddenly go into the path of a moving vehicle. The judge shot down the argument, citing the fact that Hagan himself claimed to be stopped for 45 seconds before he ran over Hunter and his bicycle.

The judge said he found Kadolph's analysis of the crash to be credible, and questioned the reliability of Hagan's testimony.

"(Hagan's) testimony doesn't indicate he knows how the accident happened," Douglas said. "He didn't even know the cyclist was there."

Hagan, who showed little emotion during the hearing, addressed the court after the ruling.

"I didn't do this on purpose," he said. "I pray for Hunter every single day."

Hunter's Family Pleads for Stricter Distracted Driving Laws

After the judge handed down his ruling, Terra and Mark Ihde tearfully approached the bench.

Terra turned to Hagan with two photos of Hunter, one from before the accident and one from after. He was recently placed on hospice, though doctors are unsure of how much time he has left, she said.

Mark told Hagan he made a "mockery" of the accident and "further desecrated" his son by contesting the traffic citation. 

Although the family has yet to decide if they will sue Hagan, Terra said they are unsure how they'll cope with Hunter's extensive medical bills, which now total $1.2 million.

Paul Darrah, spokesman for the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office, declined to speculate whether Hagan could face more serious charges if Hunter succumbs to his injuries, but said it has happened in other cases. 

For now, the Ihdes are focused on the time they have left with Hunter.

"It could be weeks, it could be months. We're not sure what lies ahead," Terra said.

The Ihdes said they will continue to work for increased penalties for distracted driving. The consequences of hitting everyday pedestrians like Hunter are relatively weak, they said, considering that hitting a worker in a construction zone carries a fine of $10,000 and up to 14 years in prison.

"My son's life is worth more than community service," Terra said.

Earlier: 

  • Family of Injured Downers Grove Boy Petitions Governor for Stiffer Distracted Driving Penalties
  • Mom of Injured Boy Urges Vigilance Behind the Wheel
  • Hunter’s Hope: Ways You Can Support Injured Boy’s Recovery
  • Community Unites in Hope for Lakeview Student Struck by Car
  • Hundreds Attend Vigil For Boy Hit By Car in Weekend Accident
Citizen at large November 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Thank you Patch for continuing to follow this story! Here is a link to the online petition for those wishing to sign: http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-of-illinois-increase-the-penalty-for-vehicle-failure-to-yield-to-pedestrian-offense
Cynthia November 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I have been following this story closely in the paper and on facebook as I have a son around Hunter's age and we have been praying for Hunter a great deal. My prayers started out for Hunter but now are focusing more on the families involved. I feel the parents have turned their anger into a lynching filled with hatred for a man who did not set out that night to run over a child and who has not been cited for distracted driving nor drug/alcohol related driving. I feel the articles and fb postings are filled with such hate and the encouragement of spreading hate that I cannot continue to follow this story. I would be more supportive of the family's petition if they were trying to get a helmet law passed in Hunter's name. This is obviously not a case of a premeditated injury. I am familiar with that intersection with the big hill and at dinner time in February when it is almost dark, I could understand how it could be very difficult to see a bike. What I pray for today is for the families involved to find peace and acceptance in order to move beyond the hate that is filling their hearts and that which is drving them to encourage others to hate.
Duncan Idaho November 20, 2012 at 07:10 AM
Cynthia's words are beyond logic, as she claims that "..the parents have turned their anger into a lynching...". Wow, the facts just don't support that provocative statement. The law clearly states the driver has a duty to see the bike rider. The problem here is the driver is clearly attempting to avoid any responsibility, even shared, by pleading not guilty. In addition, I wonder if this driver that is apparently admired so much by Cynthia is the same person who was fired from LTHS, as the following new release states: http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/news/crime/5608024-418/lths-staffer-resigns-is-arrested-for-alleged-sexual-conduct-with-student.html "Timothy J. Hagan, 39, of Drover Lane in Darien, was arrested by Lockport police. He had been employed by the district as a senior network administrator, police said. A criminal complaint alleges Hagan committed aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a 17-year-old Lockport student in 2009, police said Thursday." It is possible there are two people with the same name in Darien, so others with more time and interest will have to reach their own conclusions.
Cynthia November 21, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Duncan, you state that my statements are beyond logic and yet yours are almost comical as you just confirmed all of statements. First you bring up a story that has absolutely zero relevance to the current case or to driving a vehicle. There is no logical connection between the 2 stories. Secondly, your comments support my allegations about spreading hate. You are only referencing the other story to spread HATE which also plays into the comment about lynching the driver! Why else would you bring this up?? And in looking at the fb page, once again all I see is HATE. I could understand people's hateful judgement if the driver were drunk or if he had left the scene of the accident. But neither is true. So from where is this hatred stemming and why do you and others claim to have the right to judge others? The only person you should be judging is yourself.
Duncan Idaho November 21, 2012 at 04:38 AM
i see you have a problem in comprehending sentences, which is unfortunate for you. i confirmed nothing but the law, and the story does have relevance because it speaks to character of the driver who has made baseless statements about the circumstances that the judge wholly rejected. to think the two stories have zero relationship means you are naive or related to this criminal. there is no hate here, as this person is not even worth my hate, as he will be judged by a higher authority. and, i can certainly understand the reaction of the family of the innocent victim, who was in the unlucky position of relying on an adult to exhibit basic safety measures. as a member of a family that has been victimized by a person that resulted in traumatic injury, I am can only conclude that your own family will need some direct experience to understand the basic reaction. my advice is that you take this fellow out to dinner and allow him to drive around in your own neighborhood.
Cynthia November 23, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Once again your comments are evidence of your own character and basic safety measures would include wearing a helmet.
Hope November 28, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Cynthia you will never know what the family is going through and your comments endorse the behavior of Hagan not taking responsibility for his actions. The FB site is not filled with hate. It's a prayer site that is full of love and hope. Something you are apparently not privy to. Spite for Hagan is stemmed from his inability to confess what he did. In court he lied and said there was previous damage to his vehicle where he hit Hunter. He stated somehow Hunter slammed into his stopped vehicle and broke the laws of physics by wedging his body and crushed bicycle under his car. Hagan is not a man. He is a coward and a liar. NO ONE indicated that he was out to hit someone that day. The truth is he did. The truth is he doesn't accept responsibility for his actions. He pleaded he was the victim that day. These are all examples of Hagan's lack of character and accountability. It is disgusting and an abomination that he would take this path and that is why "people" have such disdain for him, a person with no moral character. So continue your play on words to try and validate your brother, or son or whichever your deep connection is to Hagan. Hagan had numerous chances to take responsibility and not only refuse to do so, but acts like a child and a coward and a liar in order to avoid this responsibility.
Barb B December 21, 2012 at 03:15 AM
You confirm Cynthia's statements about hate. Were you at the accident? Then tell the truth in court! You base your judgement of lies on what? He told you he lied? The paper states 1)There was no drinking, drugs or distraction 2) Contact the family lawyers always say no-common sense 3) Maybe his attorney said plead not guilty? 4) Mr. Hagan's previous vehicle damage is a lie? Who inspected his vehicle before the accident? you? the family? the investigator? 6) Hunter was not wearing a helmet. Contrary to what anyone says had he been wearing a helmet he would not have sustained such damage. 7) Hunter stopped at the corner? Pedestrian law states that he cannot "dart" into the roadway. In regards to the FB site I have looked at it and I'm glad to see such prayer and hope for such a wonderful young man. But I do see the hate filled messages that you say don't exist like "Hagan will meet his maker" "he does not deserve to be in this town" "how can he dare show his face". Those are not spreading hate? As far as "not accepting responsibility for his actions" ? Was he in court yes. Did he willingly take drug and alcohol tests yes. did he flee the accident to avoid responsibility no. as a matter of fact I read somewhere that he was the one who actually called 911! There are 2 sides to every story..... Has the family reached out to Mr. Hagan? It doesn't sound like it. It is easy to judge someone else when you give them a different set of rules to live by than you give yourself.
dana January 18, 2013 at 05:49 AM
You people are pathetic. I knew hunter and the himes family .they do not hate mr.hagen nor are they spreading hate. They just want their son back

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