ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A Geneva man pleaded guilty Dec. 6 in a fiery drunken driving crash that killed his 19-year-old passenger in a fiery crash, the Kane County States Attorney announced in a news release.
Raphael P. Peruzza, 20, pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence causing death, a Class 2 felony.
Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Lori Anderson stated in court that at about 2:20 a.m. Oct. 6, 2017, Peruzza – who was 19 at the time – was driving a black Jeep southbound on Burr Road in unincorporated St. Charles Township.
Nicholas Hanson, 19, also of Geneva, was riding in the front passenger seat.
The jeep was traveling at a high rate of speed when it left the roadway, went airborne and crashed into a group of trees.
Peruzza got out of the car as the car began to burn, leaving Hanson behind, the release stated.
The investigation revealed that Peruzza's blood-alcohol concentration was more than 0.08 percent and Peruzza admitted to police that he had been drinking alcohol just before driving.
Kane County Associate Judge David Kliment accepted the plea and set Jan. 30 for sentencing.
Peruzza faces a sentence of probation if extraordinary circumstances are found, or three to 14 years in prison.
Peruzza remains free on bond while awaiting sentencing, the release stated.
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon stated in the release that Peruzza's decision to plead guilty relieves Hanson's family “of having to live through the horrific details of the crash that killed him.”
“It does not erase the fact that Mr. Peruzza made an incredibly irresponsible and criminal decision when he chose to consume alcohol and then drive at an excessive speed," McMahon stated in the release.
Hanson, the fourth of five children, had just finished his fall semester as a sophomore at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, his father had said.
The community raised money to pay for a new baseball scoreboard for Geneva High School which was dedicated to Hanson’s memory.