Fugitive in fatal 2009 McHenry Co. crash captured breaking into cars

  • Urichait Herrera-Garcia

    Urichait Herrera-Garcia

Published: 7/26/2010 5:10 PM

A McHenry County man believed to have fled the country after a passenger died in a crash blamed on his drunken driving was arrested under an alias this month while breaking into cars in Crystal Lake, police said.

Urichait Herrera-Garcia, 23, was arraigned in a McHenry County courtroom Monday, more than seven months after a grand jury indicted him on six counts of aggravated DUI.

The charges stem from an Oct. 25 single-vehicle crash in Lakemoor that claimed the life of 18-year-old Leonardo Elias of Round Lake and injured six others.

Police believe Herrera-Garcia was intoxicated while behind the wheel of a speeding minivan when it careered off the roadway along Route 120 and struck a tree.

News of Herrera-Garcia's arrest in McHenry County came as a surprise to Lakemoor Police Chief Mike Marchese.

"The last information we had was that he fled to Mexico or at least was living in another state," he said.

Authorities had been unaware of Herrera-Garcia's whereabouts until the July 16 arrest of a burglary suspect in Crystal Lake.

Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Gene Lowery said officers responded at about midnight to the 700 block of Exmoor Trail on reports of a vehicle break-in in progress when they saw a man fleeing the area.

Police eventually captured the man, who told officers his name was Felipe Sosa, charged him with burglary and took him to the county jail.

Investigators checking the suspect's fingerprints later discovered they matched several different aliases, but not the name he gave, Lowery said.

"We didn't know who exactly we had until we started having problems with his fingerprints," Lowery said.

Working with federal immigration officials, Crystal Lake police gathered more information about the man and then questioned him about the discrepancies, leading him to ultimately reveal his true identity, Lowery said.

It is not known yet whether Herrera-Garcia had fled the area after the crash and returned under a new name or had been living here under the assumed identity all along, Lowery added.

Herrera-Garcia, who in court documents listed himself at a Crystal Lake address, pleaded not guilty Monday to the felony DUI charges and asked for a jury trial.

He remains in custody at the county jail on both $125,000 bail as well as a federal immigration hold. He could face up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the charges.