Dancers charged with aggravated DUI

Dancers charged with aggravated DUI

URBANA — Two Urbana nightclub dancers who allegedly ran over a Tilton man, one after the other, gravely injuring him, have been charged with aggravated driving under the influence.

One of the two is accused of doing so at a time when she was talking on a cellphone.

Alisha Desiree Bolton, 18, of the 100 block of Mitchell Court, Rantoul, and Chelsea Dohman, 25, of the 400 block of West High Street, Urbana, were arraigned Thursday in Champaign County Circuit Court in connection with the Jan. 25 collision that severely injured Dylan Lyons, 20, of Tilton.

Assistant State's Attorney Scott Bennett said chemical testing revealed that Bolton had cocaine byproducts in her system, while Dohman had cannabis byproducts in hers.

If convicted of aggravated DUI, they face penalties ranging from probation to one to 12 years in prison.

Urbana police investigator Dave Smysor, who has been working the case since the morning it happened, said the two women got off work at the Silver Bullet at 1401 E. Washington St., U, and were each in their own cars headed west on Washington about 2:15 a.m.

Smysor said Bolton had another dancer in her car and was giving her a ride home.

Lyons, who worked as a roadie for a Champaign-based band, was outside of his car in the 400 block of East Washington Street, unloading musical equipment. Because of threatening weather, he was staying at a relative's home, Smysor said.

Smysor said Bolton told him that Lyons' passenger door opened, she hit it, and her windshield shattered.

"She didn't know she hit anyone and got out to investigate," Smysor said. "She found Dylan lying in the roadway."

Moments later, Dohman came along and hit Lyons again as he lay in the westbound lane. Dohman told Smysor she swerved to avoid the open car door, braked and slid on the slick road.

"There was a small amount of snow on the road, and as she was skidding, she runs over at least one of his legs," Smysor said.

Smysor said the women were not arrested or ticketed that morning because neither had obvious signs of impairment. Both voluntarily gave blood and urine samples, he said.

He had let both women know he would need more thorough interviews with them after getting lab results.

In April, the state crime lab reported finding the cocaine byproducts in Bolton's blood and the cannabis byproducts in Dohman's.

Smysor said it was a couple of weeks ago that he obtained cellphone records for each of the women's phones and confirmed that Dohman had been talking to a friend at the time she struck Lyons. She had initially denied talking on a phone or otherwise being distracted as she drove.

He then interviewed both women on Wednesday and presented his entire package of reports to the state's attorney Thursday.

Smysor said Dohman admitted she had smoked cannabis about eight hours prior to the collision. Bolton said she had ingested what she thought was Ecstasy a few days earlier, he said.

Dohman was also charged with aggravated use of an electronic communication device, a Class A misdemeanor.

Both women are represented by Champaign attorney Walter Ding, who urged Judge John Kennedy to set a low bond for them.

Ding told the judge that Dohman is three months' pregnant while Bolton is seven months' pregnant. He also noted that both women cooperated with Smysor throughout his investigation. Ding said Dohman was scheduled to start a new job on Friday.

Kennedy set bond for each of the women at $50,000 and ordered them to appear before Judge Rich Klaus on Aug. 15. Neither had any prior convictions, Bennett said.

Smysor said he's been in touch with Lyons' father, who reported that his son has no recollection of being hit.

The detective said Lyons was in a coma for several days, having sustained swelling on the brain. He also had multiple broken bones: collarbone, scapula, ribs, back and his right leg.

There have been fundraisers on behalf of Lyons, who was hospitalized for months both at Carle and in Indiana.

"His recovery is going to take years," Smysor said. "I'm not sure he'll ever be back to 'normal.'"

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alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 27, 2014 at 6:06 pm
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"Smysor said the women were not arrested or ticketed that morning because neither had obvious signs of impairment."

Probably because they weren't impaired by any reasonable standard.  Of course, reasonable standards, and the standards that the criminal justice system often use to prey on citizens, can be two very different things.

This is absolutely no different than arresting someone for aggravated DUI because they were in a car accident after drinking alcohol several days earlier.  Nobody would think that was reasonable.  So why is this OK?

Reckless driving charges might be appropriate here, especially for the one who was on her phone.  But aggravated "DUI?"  What a joke.  I'd love for them to put me on this jury. 

It's sad how our criminal justice system has turned into a bunch of ambulance chasers, looking to attach criminal blame to every unfortunate accident.

amf wrote on June 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

I agree, the DUI charges are suspect.  It also seems to me that when the same events occur with separate people but the same environment, doesn't it seem likely that the environment is the stronger contributing factor?  Now, the cellphone use charge is fine by me.  No one should be on the phone while driving in the dark on a wet, slippery road.

Also, it really bothers me that the women's occupation is noted, several times, and is the lead in the headline, despite it being completely irrelevant to the case.  I notice this kind of sensationalizing with Mary Schenk's stories more often than others'.   Why is it important to explain that the victim was staying with a relative because of the threatening weather?  It's as if the writer thinks these details make it a more juicy story, which is not really the point of newspaper reporting.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm
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Good point, I noticed that too.  The degree to which Schenk points out that these young women are nightclub dancers is indeed repugnant.  That is nothing but sensationalistic yellow journalism. 

But, of course, Schenk rarely does any actual reporting, except for copying what police reports tell her, and maybe interviewing a cop or two as in this instance.  I can't recall a time she ever wrote anything that went against the party line at the police station and the courthouse.  A journalist isn't supposed to be an unquestioning mouthpiece of those in power.  Whatever this paper pays her, it's too much.