FREEPORT — The truck driver charged in the death of Illinois State Trooper Brooke Jones-Story fell asleep multiple times before the crash on March 28, police said Thursday.
State Police Sgt. Charles Davidson, testifying at a preliminary hearing for the accused man, Craig Dittmar, said Dittmar had admitted falling asleep and even took a short nap earlier during his trip from Joliet.
About a mile before the crash on U.S. Highway 20 near Freeport, Dittmar told police, he woke up after hitting a bump on the road. Witnesses at the scene told police Dittmar admitted he was likely asleep when the crash occurred, Davidson said.
Judge Michael Bald found probable cause to charge Dittmar with two counts of reckless homicide and one count of operating while fatigued. Dittmar, who pleaded not guilty, is next due in court July 11.
If convicted, Dittmar could face two to 14 years in prison.
Footage acquired from a storage facility near the crash showed there was no vehicle in the left lane that would have prevented Dittmar from moving over to avoid Jones-Story, who was conducting a traffic stop, Davidson said. State law requires drivers to slow down, use caution and change lanes if possible when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.
Dittmar’s attorney, Christopher DeRango, asked Bald to find no probable cause, arguing against the state’s assertion that Dittmar suffered from a condition that impaired his driving.
“We have not heard any evidence of any condition that Mr. Dittmar suffers from,” DeRango said.
Stephenson County State’s Attorney Carl Larson argued that Dittmar had continued to drive even though he knew his condition hindered his ability to drive safely.
“He had a condition,” Larson said. “The condition was exhaustion. He was aware of it and he continued driving regardless.”
Dittmar, 55, started his day at 5:30 a.m. on March 28, loading his truck in Monroe, Wisconsin, before driving to Joliet. The crash occurred during his return trip.
Derrick Mason contributed to this story.