Sunday, December 8, 2013

Charges Filed Against Intoxicated Motorist Who Struck and Killed Chicago Bicyclist Hector Avalos

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The Cook County State's Attorney's Office has filed felony charges against a Riverside motorist who has been charged with Aggravated Driving Under the Influence (DUI), a felony, and two misdemeanor DUI charges in the death of Chicago bicyclist Hector Avalos. The motorist, 54 year old Robert Vais of suburban Riverside, was driving a 2002 Ford Windstar minivan when he struck Avalos in the 2500 block of West Ogden Avenue just before midnight on Friday evening.

At the time of the collision Hector Avalos was riding home from his job at a restaurant in Chicago's River North neighborhood to his home in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood. According to reports, Robert Vais works at Cook County's Stroger Hospital which is located nearby in Chicago's Medical District. However, there are currently no details as to when Vais was driving at the time of the collision or where he was prior to getting in the minivan.

One detail that has emerged in that Vais was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Vais's blood alcohol level was .118 at the time he was tested, which is nearly 50% over the maximum legal limit in Illinois of .08. Depending on how soon after the collision Vais was tested, it is possible that his blood alcohol level was actually higher at the exact time of the collision. Under Section 11-501(d) of the Illinois Vehicle Code an "aggravated" DUI occurs when the driver is not only intoxicated at the time of the collision, but the collision leads to great bodily harm to another person. Tragically, this incident of drunken driving directly lead to the death of Hector Avalos. Vais has been held on $400,000.00 bond.

Independent of the criminal case being prosecuted by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, the Avalos family can proceed with a civil lawsuit against the motorist for the death of Hector. In situations like this the family can pursue a claim for the death of Hector under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, and also for the injuries and damages suffered by Hector before his death under the Illinois Survival Act.

Hector Avalos was described by his mother as simply "good." Hector served his country for five years in the military and by all account was a decent young man who worked. He loved being out doors and loved riding his bike. Unfortunately Hector's life was ended as a result of an intoxicated motorist's negligence.

Regardless of any legal proceedings, the reality is that Hector's family lost one of their own. His friends and co-workers lost this great person in their lives. A life is senselessly gone. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Avalos family and his friends at the most difficult time.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Michael S. Keating. Mr. Keating is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the American Association for Justice, the national trial lawyers' organization and is a national leader in the field of bicycle litigation. Mr. Keating can be reach at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.