Saturday marked the first holiday Adam Antoni's family spent without their father and husband, a 41-year-old motorcyclist who died June 2 in an alleged drunken driving crash.
Antoni was driving home to his wife and three children when 69-year-old Robert A. Roth allegedly struck a vehicle that entered Antoni's lane and collided with his motorcycle, killing him.
Now Roth, a Crystal Lake attorney accused of driving under the influence of alcohol during the fatal crash, is at the center of two lawsuits alleging wrongful death and negligence.
Antoni's wife, Jennifer Antoni, filed her civil suit against Roth on June 12 as a special administrator over her husband's estate. She seeks more than $50,000 in money damages from both Roth and Michael Pedretti, the driver of the vehicle that struck Antoni. Pedretti has filed his own lawsuit against Roth, seeking an additional $50,000 in damages for negligence and willful and wanton conduct.
"It's an abomination," said Brad Balke, the attorney who represents Jennifer Antoni. "They’re never going to see their husband or father ever again."
Roth also faces criminal DUI charges tied to Antoni's death. His criminal defense attorney, Patrick Walsh, declined to comment Friday while the case is ongoing. According to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Roth remained authorized to practice law and had no disciplinary record as of Monday.
"He’s a very well known attorney in the area and it makes my profession look bad," Balke said.
The crash occurred at 4:38 p.m. while Antoni was driving his Buell motorcycle south on Route 31 near the intersection with Drake Drive in Nunda Township, according to the lawsuit. At the same time, Roth and Pedretti were driving their respective vehicles, a Ford Explorer and 2013 Jeep Wrangler, north on Route 31 approaching the Drake Drive intersection. For unknown reasons, Roth’s SUV rear-ended the Jeep Wrangler, which entered the southbound lane of traffic and struck Antoni's motorcycle, according to the lawsuit.
"[Antoni] is – or was – just a fantastic guy," Balke said. "Beloved father of three. He went to work ... and then he would go home and go to his kids' activities."
Jennifer Antoni also is suing Pedretti for wrongful death and negligence in the same complaint, alleging in part that Pedretti failed to stay in his lane, decrease his speed to avoid a crash and follow the vehicle in front of his at a safe distance.
According to Pedretti's lawsuit against Roth, however, Pedretti suffered "severe and permanent" injury and pain, which have led to hefty medical expenses as a result of the crash.
Pedretti's attorneys, Kevin Justen and Scott Stephenson, could not be reached for comment.
Roth was released from the McHenry County Jail on June 5, after posting $5,000 bail, records show. He's due back in court Thursday on felony charges of aggravated driving under the influence, driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content above the 0.08, legal limit. Roth's exact blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was not immediately available.
If Roth were convicted of the most serious charge, aggravated DUI, he could be sentenced to between three and 14 years in prison. Depending on his blood alcohol content at the time, he also could be ordered to serve a mandatory minimum 100 hours of community service, according to a grand jury indictment.