Trucker sentenced to 3 years in prison for fatal I-88 crash

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WHEATON, Ill. — The trucker convicted for the I-88 crash that killed a tollway worker and injured a state trooper received the maximum sentence of three years behind bars and one year supervised release.

Renato Velasquez sat quietly as attorneys and the judge wrangled over how to lay out his sentence today.

State trooper Douglas Balder says the fact that Velasquez wasn’t charged with reckless homicide in the January 2014 crash that critically injured him and killed tollway worker Vincent Petrella as they helped a motorist on I-88, is unconscionable.

“We are grateful that he received the max but in our minds, this man  and the man who killed trooper James Souter, should receive more,” Balder said.

Velasquez was a truck driver who had only gotten a few hours of sleep during a 37 hour shift that took him from Illinois into Nebraska and Iowa and back. Prosecutors alleged that Velasquez falsified his logbook to cover up that he was not getting the proper amount of rest and that he fell asleep behind the wheel.

Before sentencing, prosecutors read a statement from the wife of Vincent Petrella that said, in part, “I lost my best friend and husband. I will never be able to see him again or hear him say ‘I love you Sandy.’ My kids will grow up without their father.”

Velasquez also got up, and, with a thick accent, told the court “I don’t know what happened that night.  I’m so sorry for everything that happened.”

The DuPage County State`s Attorney says because of state law, he just couldn`t charge Velasquez with homicide in this case even though a death occurred and Velasquez was responsible for the crash.  He says he`s working with state lawmakers to create a new law that would provide for stricter punishment for fatigue-related crashes by commercial drivers in the future.

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