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Crash ruled a homicide

PRINCETON — A Bureau County coroner’s jury has returned a homicide ruling on the May 20, two-vehicle crash that resulted in the death of Tzantera Tyler Bach-Dalton, 48, of Rockford.

In his testimony Tuesday afternoon before the coroner’s jury, Illinois State Police trooper and site reconstructionist Jonathan Kueker said the May 20 crash occurred on Interstate 80 near Mile Marker 41 during a rainy period. Upon arrival, Kueker found the Dalton vehicle partially in the ditch along the north side of the interstate. Dalton was deceased in the vehicle, he said.

Kueker said the Dalton vehicle was parked partially on the roadway when it was struck by a Jeep driven by Christina Elmers, 18, of Albany, Ill. The Elmers’ vehicle was in its lane at the time of the crash, the site reconstructionist said.

The chemical testing on Elmers showed she had a blood alcohol content of .26, Kueker said, which is three times over the legal limit. Elmers told authorities she had been drinking, and there were alcohol bottles near her vehicle, he said.

Bureau County Coroner Janice Wamhoff told the jury she pronounced Dalton dead at 11 p.m. at the scene. An autopsy performed the next day showed Dalton died of blunt trauma to the head and neck. There was no alcohol in Dalton’s system, Wamhoff said.

After about an hour deliberation, the coroner’s jury returned its ruling.

After the inquest, Wamhoff commented on the jury’s ruling. In the jury’s estimation, the death was determined to be a homicide because the person who was driving the vehicle that hit Dalton’s vehicle was intoxicated. Drinking and driving is against the law. Elmers’ blood alcohol level was no doubt a big factor in the jury’s ruling, the coroner said.

Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann also attended Tuesday’s inquest.

Following the inquest, Herrmann said the coroner’s jury ruling was not legally binding on the state. He had just received the site reconstructionist’s report that day from Kueker. After studying the report, he will make a determination if further charges will be made against Elmers, Herrmann said.

Elmers is currently charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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