Mahomet man arraigned in accident that caused friend's death

Mahomet man arraigned in accident that caused friend's death

URBANA — A Mahomet man accused of driving while drunk, leading to his friend's death, made his first court appearance Wednesday on felony charges.

Chad Smith, 27, of the 200 block of South Lincoln Street appeared before Judge John Kennedy with his broken arm pinned against his body, an injury he received in an early-morning crash Saturday that took the life of Michael P. Donahue.

Mr. Donahue, 32, died at the scene of the single-vehicle crash on County Road 350 E at the intersection with 2500 N, about 2 miles north of Mahomet and just west of Illinois 47.

Kennedy left Smith's bond at the $100,000 set Sunday by Judge Jeff Ford. Kennedy told Smith if he's convicted of either of the charges of aggravated driving under the influence, he faces penalties ranging from four years of probation up to three to 14 years in prison.

Smith's attorney, Jim Martinkus of Champaign, asked Kennedy to set the case for a probable-cause hearing July 30.

Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Perry said Champaign County sheriff's deputies learned that Smith and Mr. Donahue had been drinking in the beer tent at the Fisher Fair prior to the crash, which happened about 2:45 a.m. July 14.

Sheriff's Lt. Brian Mennenga said Mr. Donahue was a passenger in the car, which was headed west on 2500 N when Smith reportedly lost control and rolled over at least once before coming to rest in a bean field. Mr. Donahue was thrown out.

Perry said a blood draw done on Smith revealed that his blood-alcohol concentration was 0.179 — more than twice the limit for a motorist to be presumed intoxicated in Illinois.

Although an autopsy was done on Mr. Donahue, Coroner Duane Northrup said until he has the results of toxicology tests, he's unable to give a preliminary cause of death.

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