Springfield woman arrested, charged in '09 double-fatal crash
A Springfield woman is jailed on reckless homicide charges stemming from an alleged DUI crash on Interstate 72 last summer that left two people dead.
Tonya L. Casper, 43, who was booked into the Sangamon County Jail about 6:45 p.m. Thursday, is being held on $1 million bond. She could be released from jail if she posts $100,000 bail.
Casper was charged Thursday with aggravated driving under the influence, reckless homicide, two counts of aggravated reckless conduct, two counts of aggravated reckless driving, DUI and speeding.
Jail records show Casper lives on Imperial Valley Drive, but court records list her address as the 1000 block of North Patton Street.
The crash happened July 17 on Interstate 72 west of Springfield. Two people died, including a passenger in a vehicle and another victim who was standing in the roadway.
Police at the time said Casper was driving east in a Toyota Corolla about 10 p.m. near the Wabash Avenue exit. She rear-ended a Ford Explorer driven by Zachary E. Barnes, 22, of Chicago.
Barnes lost control of the Explorer, which went into the median and overturned several times, police said.
A passenger in the back seat, Cameron S. Weider, 21, of Jefferson City, Mo., was thrown from the SUV and pronounced dead at the scene.
After the crash, the other passenger in Barnes’ SUV, Eric J. Finneran, 21, of Hoffman Estates, was standing in the highway near the westbound lanes.
Alban Haxhinasto, 28, of Jacksonville, whose car was in the left lane, saw Finneran standing near the road. He swerved into the right lane to avoid hitting Finneran, but his car collided with a westbound Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Beverly Evans, 55, of Bluffs.
A vehicle driven by Daniel Ramsey, 40, of Robinson then maneuvered onto the shoulder to avoid hitting the other two vehicles, but Ramsey’s car struck Finneran, then crossed over the westbound lanes and hit the Chevrolet Tahoe’s rear end.
Finneran was pronounced dead at the scene.
Barnes was charged with driving under the influence of drugs. He was treated and released from St. John’s Hospital.
Both directions of I-72 were shut down for nearly six hours after the crash.
Assistant state’s attorney Jennifer Kuntz said Friday the investigation took longer than usual.
“There were five cars involved, so the reconstruction required more time,” she said. In addition, Kuntz said, Casper was driving a Toyota and further investigation was required because of that automaker’s recent problems.
Casper is being held responsible for Finneran’s death under the theory that her actions started the chain of events that led to his death, Kuntz said.
Jayette Bolinski can be reached at 788-1530. http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x11203856/Springfield-woman-arrested-charged-in-09-double-fatal-crash