A Lakeview man accused of drunkenly driving the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive early Friday and killing a woman after he struck her oncoming taxi was ordered held on $750,000 bail Sunday in Cook County bond court.
Erik F. Johnson, 23, of the 3500 block of North Janssen Avenue, faces reckless homicide, aggravated DUI and other charges in the wrong-way crash that killed Laura Anne LaPlante, a University of Chicago law student, and injured three others, including himself.
Johnson drove his 2014 Subaru SUV south onto the northbound Lake Shore lanes near Grand Avenue at about 1:50 a.m. Friday, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Colleen Rogers.
- Video: Man charged in Lake Shore Drive crash
- Driver faces DUI charge in fatal crash
- Wrong way crash victim
- Victim in Lake Shore Drive crash was law student
- Laura Anne LaPlante
- Colleges and Universities
- Highway and Road Disasters
- Transportation Disasters
See more topics »
- 200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL, 60603, United States
LaPlante, 26, of Hancock, N.H., and a 24-year-old male passenger were riding in the back seat of a taxi and coming around the curve of the drive just south of the river when their vehicle collided with Johnson’s, according to Rogers.
Johnson’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash, according to Rogers.
Outside the courtroom, Johnson’s father, Bill Johnson, said he wanted to apologize for the “tragic accident.”
“We’ve been praying since we heard about it,” he said.
LaPlante and the man she was with in the taxi were not wearing seat belts, Rogers said.
After the crash, Johnson got out of the Subaru and urinated on the median, according to Rogers. He told paramedics he had had five or six beers and shots of hard liquor, Rogers said. She did not say how many of each Johnson reportedly had. Johnson told police he was driving to St. Louis, according to court records.
LaPlante was pronounced dead around 6:30 p.m. Friday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
The 24-year-old man who also was in the taxi had to be intubated and suffered severe head and chest trauma, including broken ribs, a broken sternum and a collapsed lung, according to Rogers. Both his legs were broken and he was in serious condition at Northwestern as of Saturday, she said.
The taxi driver, 38, suffered a fractured elbow and was treated and released, according to Rogers.
Johnson was taken to Stroger Hospital, Rogers said, and witnesses at the scene of the collision identified him as the SUV’s driver.
Johnson's attorney, Edward Pietrucha, said his client moved here from New York in 2008 and graduated with a degree in business administration from Loyola University. Pietrucha said the incident was “out of character” for Johnson.
LaPlante was scheduled to graduate this year from the University of Chicago Law School, which had flags outside at half-staff, according to John Bright, who answered the phone at the school Saturday.
LaPlante was the president of the Federalist Society at the school, treasurer for the Law School Republicans, a member of the St. Thomas More Society, the Law Women's Caucus and the Edmund Burke Society, and had planned to join the Boston law firm WilmerHale as an associate in the fall after working there last summer, said University of Chicago Law School Dean Michael H. Schill in a statement.
Schill said she was well known at the University of Chicago Law School for her “warmth and kindness” and was always ready to volunteer her help for either school events or friends — “always with a smile for everyone.”