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Geneva man accused in fatal Naperville crash gets out of jail

Published: Saturday, July 19, 2014 2:34 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014 10:44 p.m. CDT
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(Charles Menchaca – cmenchaca@shawmedia.com)
Two flower bouquets were left along a repaired fence near Eagle Street and Aurora Avenue in Naperville, where a car left the road Saturday, crashed through the fence and landed in a water-filled quarry, killing two of the men in the car. The driver of the car, Michael Szot of Geneva, survived the crash and was charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless homicide.

A Geneva man who was charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless homicide after a crash that killed two people was released Monday from DuPage County Jail after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bail.

Michael Szot, 21, of Geneva has been charged with four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing the death of another person and two counts of reckless homicide. Prosecutors had requested that bail be set at $3 million.

Police and firefighters responded at about 1:59 a.m. Saturday to the intersection of Aurora Avenue and Eagle Street for a report of a vehicle that had driven into a Naperville Park District quarry.

Szot admitted to police that he had been smoking marijuana earlier that day, and that he and his passengers had been drinking rum shots and beer at a local bar before the crash, prosecutors said during Sunday’s bail hearing in front of DuPage County Judge Timothy McJoynt.

Prosecutors said a marijuana pipe had been found in Szot’s pocket. Szot’s blood-alcohol level was 0.142, above the legal limit of 0.08.

Szot’s next court appearance is set for Aug. 11 for arraignment in front of Judge Kathryn Creswell.

If found guilty of the charges, Szot faces a maximum penalty of up to 28 years in prison.

The two passengers in the vehicle – Mihirtej Boddupalli, 21, of Lisle and Sajaad Safiullah Syed, 21, of Naperville – were unable to escape from the 2007 Chevy Impala that Szot was driving. They were located by fire and police divers in the car, which was 50 feet under water, and were taken to Edward Hospital in Naperville, where they were pronounced dead.

Szot and Boddupalli both attended Northwestern University in Evanston and were friends, said Szot’s attorney, Jeff Fawell.

“It is a tragedy,” Fawell said. Szot’s parents also were at the bail hearing.

“They are in deep despair,” Fawell said. “They wish to express their sympathies to the families of Boddupalli and Syed.”

Szot graduated from Geneva High School in 2011. When he was a student at Geneva High School, Szot was co-president of the group GHS Students Against Destructive Decisions, his parents said Sunday.

Before the incident, Szot had never received even a traffic ticket, Fawell said.

“He has never been arrested,” Fawell said, in pushing for bail to be set at $100,000.

Fawell said he was not knowledgeable about what prosecutors said took place before the crash.

Police said the preliminary investigation indicates that Szot was driving west on Aurora Avenue and left the roadway at Eagle Street, crashing into several trees and landing in the quarry on the northwest corner of the intersection.

Szot was able to escape from the vehicle and swim to safety, police said. He was taken to Edward Hospital, where he was treated and released.

“Early Saturday morning, two young men tragically lost their lives because of a very bad decision made by an alleged drunk driver,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a news release. “People have got to learn that DUI crashes are not accidents and are 100 percent avoidable by not drinking before you get behind the wheel of a car.”

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information regarding the incident can contact the Naperville Police Department at 630-305-5285.

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