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19-year-old charged with reckless homicide in St. Charles-area crash that left one dead

Driver walked away from vehicle, fire official says

ST. CHARLES – A 19-year-old Geneva man has been charged with reckless homicide following a Friday crash near St. Charles that left another teen dead.

Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District received a call from a passerby just before 2:20 a.m. Friday on Burr Road near Dean Street in St. Charles Township for a vehicle off the road and in some trees, Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue Chief John Nixon said.

As emergency responders were en route, the call was updated to include that the vehicle and the tree had caught fire, and the adult male driver – Raphael Peruzza, 19, of the 2000 block of Eldorado Drive in Geneva – had walked away from the vehicle to a residence down the road. Peruzza was later transported to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Nixon said.

Once firefighters were able to control the blaze, they found Nicholas Hanson, 19, of the 3000 block of Husking Peg Lane in Geneva, dead in the passenger seat of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Office.

On Saturday, a warrant was issued for Peruzza, and he was charged with reckless homicide, a Class 3 felony; aggravated DUI accident causing death, a Class 2 felony; driving in the wrong lane, a traffic offence; and driving too fast for conditions, a traffic offence.

Peruzza was transported from Delnor Hospital to the Kane County Adult Justice Center. His bail was set at $200,000.

The Kane County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy on Hanson on Friday. Toxicology samples were collected and sent to a forensic lab. The preliminary cause of death is pending, according to a news release from that office.

Kane County Coroner Rob Russell, via a forensic odonatologist, positively identified Hanson.

“This incident is a great example of how we must do our due diligence," he said in the release. "We rely heavily on the science to definitely determine identity, as well as cause and manner of death.” 

The vehicle appeared to have driven off the roadway, rolled over and landed in a wooded area roughly 30 feet from the street, Nixon said.

Kane County Sheriff's Office Director of Administration Patrick Gengler noted the Jeep apparently had been southbound on Burr Road south of Bolcum Road, and ended up east of Burr.

"Detectives have not ruled out that drugs, alcohol or excessive speed played a role in this crash," Gengler said in an email.

The sheriff's office and Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team are investigating the incident.

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