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OTTAWA - A LaSalle County coroner's jury determined Thursday a Streator man killed by a single blow to the head was the victim of a homicide.

In two other cases, the jury found deaths were accidental in the cases of a Wenona man killed in traffic accident a Kangley man who asphyxiated in a Streator basement.

In the homicide case, Streator police investigator John Krasnican told the six-person jury Luke Englert, 24, got into a fight Oct. 30, 2004, in an alley off South Monroe Street in downtown Streator.

Jerry Garretson, 34, of rural Streator hit him once in the face, police said. The blow caused a complication that later killed Englert that morning in the emergency room of St. Mary's Hospital, Streator.

Garretson, who has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter, is free on bond and awaits a January trial.

Englert had a blood-alcohol content of 0.234 when he died. That is nearly three times the legal limit if he had been driving.

In the car accident case, the coroner's jury ruled the death of Brandon Landess, 19, of Wenona was accidental. His vehicle swerved into the path of a semitrailer truck Sept. 30 because he was distracted by a bee or wasp in the vehicle, authorities said.

Investigators said Landess was extremely allergic to the insect stings and wanted to avoid being stung.

His car swung into the path of a truck driven by Jeffrey Peterson, 35, of Wenona.

Peterson and two passengers in Landess' car, Travis Dennis, 23, and Jeffrey Pruitt, 29, both of Rutland, were treated and released for their injuries.

Robert Hays, 58, a workman from Kangley, accidentally died Aug. 19 of carbon monoxide poisoning after he was overcome while power-washing a basement in Streator. Equipment exhaust built up in the poorly ventilated basement, authorities said.

A partner on the job had left a short time before the accident.


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