The Tri-Cities area is widely considered a safe place to live. A recent homicide in Geneva was the first murder case in town in almost 40 years, and other types of high-profile, violent crimes also are rarities throughout the immediate area.
When it comes to instances of driving under the influence of alcohol, though, Tri-Cities residents do not enjoy the same kind of peace of mind.
Sadly, the police reports in our newspaper often are chock-full of DUI charges, which generally do not attract the same level of public consternation as other crimes that can carry lethal consequences.
That is, until we learn of situations such as what occurred last weekend. Michael Szot, 21, of Geneva was charged with four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing the death of another person and two counts of reckless homicide after two friends he allegedly was driving with after a night of drinking in Naperville did not survive a crash into a water-filled quarry. Szot also had smoked marijuana earlier in the day, prosecutors said.
Szot, a Northwestern student, has no criminal record, according to his attorney, but he now faces a potentially long prison sentence and a lifetime of regret. His loved ones and the loved ones of the two crash victims who died never will be the same.
These are the potentially grave ramifications that can happen every time somebody takes the wheel after having a few alcoholic drinks. We might think we live in a safe area, and in a lot of ways, that is true. But as long as so many impaired drivers are on the roads, the potential for tragedy on our streets is a real threat to our communities’ well-being.