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Man was driving 108 mph when he caused crash that killed family of 3 in northern Illinois, authorities say
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Man was driving 108 mph when he caused crash that killed family of 3 in northern Illinois, authorities say

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A 25-year-old Des Plaines man with a long history of traffic violations was driving 108 mph and under the influence of drugs when he caused a fatal crash last month that killed a husband and wife and their son in Mount Prospect, police and prosecutors said.

Garrett Kowalski, of the 500 block of North Third Avenue, was charged last week with three counts of reckless homicide, three counts of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and possession of a controlled substance, Ketamine, in the March 7 crash in Mount Prospect, according to the Cook County State’s attorney’s office.

Kowalski appeared in court Friday and was being held in Cook County Jail in lieu of $800,000 bail Tuesday morning, according to records.

Kowalski was driving a Ford Escape near the intersection of Rand Road and Mount Prospect Road when he struck a Honda Accord, killing Francisco Flores Rodriguez, 58, Georgina Perez Gomez, 59, and Francisco Javier Flores Perez, 31, of Des Plaines, who were in the Honda, according to Mount Prospect police.

The FBI processed a record high number of gun background checks in March nearly 4.7 million in one month. The agency is able to make an immediate determination about 90% of the time, but what happens when it can't?Federal law gives the National Instant Criminal Background Check System three business days to process an application. If it's still pending after three days, federally licensed firearms dealers are allowed to complete the sale anyway.The FBI says results are most commonly delayed when NICS has an incomplete criminal history. The missing information means employees need to hunt down the relevant details before they can determine whether the applicant is allowed to have a gun. And sometimes that process takes more than three days. If the background check eventually results in a denial, but that person already purchased a firearm, the FBI passes the case to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as a "firearm retrieval referral." In 2019, nearly 3,000 people who should have been prohibited from buying a gun were able to do so because their 3-day waiting period expired. The ATF told Newsy they act on every single referral, and firearms are usually recovered within a week. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to extend that 3-day approval window to 20 days. That proposal is awaiting Senate action, and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner says the three-week window will likely need to be shortened to garner enough support to pass. "There ought to be a rational way that we can figure out if someone has been advocating violence, advocating a race or advocating, you know, overthrow of the government in a violent way. I mean, that's a rational thing that we ought to have knowledge of before we give that person, particularly an assault weapon," said Warner. Gun background check requests rose significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, NICS processed 11.3 million more applications than the year before. The FBI told Newsy the agency has been able to respond to the increased background check requests using more staffing or overtime hours to meet the demand.  

Prior to the crash, the family had been shopping at a nearby Walmart store earlier that morning, while Kowalski had left his Des Plaines apartment around 7:40 a.m., allegedly leaving his door open, with lines of ketamine found on an iPad alongside an identification card, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Several surveillance videos from businesses along Rand Road captured Kowalski’s vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, and the vehicle was observed by multiple witnesses along Rand Rood traveling northwest well above the speed limit, prosecutors said.

Kowalski then ran a red light at Rand Road and Wolf Road, with a witness reporting that the engine of his vehicle was “screaming” as he accelerated, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, after finishing their shopping, the Des Plaines family was in their white Honda, and drove south through a green light, with the right of way, as they attempted to turn left from Mount Prospect Road on to Rand, prosecutors said.

At Around 7:45 a.m., Kowalski accelerated to a speed of 108 mph in 40 mph zone, police said, running the red light at Rand Road and Mount Prospect Road, and crashing into the driver’s side of the Honda.

Kowalski’s vehicle then went airborne, landing on its roof and rotating more than 90 degrees as it travelled across the pavement before coming to a stop, prosecutors said.

The vehicle the three family members were in was located in the southeast-bound lanes of Rand with extensive damage, and emergency crews told police it was immediately apparent that the three people inside had not survived the crash, prosecutors said.

Kowalski was found in the driver’s seat of the Ford, not wearing his seat belt, and was removed by emergency crews and taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, where he was treated for injuries requiring surgery, prosecutors said.

In addition to three prior misdemeanor battery convictions, Kowalski has an extensive traffic violation history including for speeding, including a total of six convictions, and three orders of supervision dating from 2013 to 2021, authorities said.

In a bond court hearing Friday, Prosecutors argued Kowalski posed a public safety risk and asked that if he posts bond, he be subject to conditions including that he be prohibited from driving, turn in any passport if he has one, and that he be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing.


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