18 months ordered for lying about fatal accident
WOODSTOCK – A Harvard man who struck and killed a bicyclist with his truck and then lied to police saying he was a witness was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a half in prison.
Steven Ray Price, 23, and his passenger, Alex Walker, now 20, gave a description of a fictive truck that sheriff’s police used to publicize in a search for the driver, police said.
The crash on March 18, 2010 at the intersection of Graf and Maxon roads near Harvard killed 25-year-old bicyclist Christopher Schaaf.
Schaaf was pronounced dead at the scene; police did not believe there was any delay in reporting the accident or in Schaaf receiving medical attention.
In May, Price pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatality accident and obstructing justice, both Class 4 felonies. He had faced up to three years in prison, but also was eligible for probation.
The charge against Walker was dropped after he completed the First Offender Program, which involves intensive probation.
During Price's sentencing, Schaaf's sister, Danielle, read a statement to the judge in which she recalled getting the phone call from her mother and was told that her brother was dead.
Her father had previously died when she was 12, and she remembers thinking, "Why does God hate me?"
"Losing someone can completely kill a person that is still breathing," she said. "It breaks my heart that my family has to go through this because of a boy not paying attention to his surroundings."
A letter written by Schaaf's wife, Crystal, was read by her father.
She wrote about how not only her best friend and husband had been taken from her, but the hopes and dreams they had of creating a family and sharing the rest of their lives with each other.
"You can't imagine the things I've been through because they did not happen to you," she wrote. "They happened because of you."
Price's girlfriend and mother to his daughter testified on his behalf, saying that Price works in construction and supports their family. Imprisonment would be devastating, Kimberly Vasquez said.
In a summary of the case, McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Zalud said that Price's actions showed a disrespect for human life.
"His actions were cowardly," Zalud said. "His actions were repugnant."
Price's attorney, Dan Hofmann, said that it is clear that Schaaf was a remarkable person.
"Nothing I can say is going to ... make up for the profound and unending loss Chris's family feels," he said.
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