Driver in fatal accident will not face criminal charges

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Carbondale Times

A Herrin man will not be charged with reckless homicide following a December 2015 incident in which a car he was driving on Rt. 13 struck and killed two 18-year-old Carbondale boys.

State’s Attorney Mike Carr announced Thursday that he lacks sufficient evidence to charge Timothy O’Boyle, 49, with either reckless homicide or aggravated DUI, although the Herrin man will face a charge of speeding for allegedly driving 20 miles above the speed limit while traveling through the intersection at Reed Station Road.

Just after O’Boyle passed through a yellow light at that intersection around 8:25 p.m. Dec. 5, he struck and killed Gavin Flynn, a 2015 graduate of Carbondale Community High School; and Ryan Reed, a senior at CCHS.

Carr says that following the accident, O’Boyle told authorities that he was on his way to Carbondale to pick up a pizza and that he was not under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs — all facts that investigators later verified.

Carr said that evidence gathered by police further indicated that Flynn and Reed, both dressed in dark clothing, had narrowly evaded being hit minutes earlier while crossing Route 13 in the opposite direction. Carr says “failure on the part of the pedestrians” to take proper safety precautions while crossing the highway was a major factor in the accident.

“The circumstances suggest that they should have been aware of the risks, if for no other reason than their previous close call, that a motorist may not be able to see them,” Carr said in a prepared release. “They should have been aware before stepping onto the highway that the traffic signal did not require oncoming traffic to stop. And, they should have been able to see the oncoming headlights. They should have known and appreciated the dangers that their pace, their dark clothing and the timing of their attempt to cross would entail. And, motorists traveling through such an intersection are not unreasonable in believing that pedestrians, who may have occasions to cross this type of highway at night, would take precautions to do so only when it was safe.”

Carr further said that even though O’Boyle allegedly was traveling well over the speed limit, that alone is not enough to prove recklessness as provided by criminal statute.

“There are some who would advocate that anyone speeding and involved in an accident is reckless,” Carr said. “However, that is not the law. If it was, every speeder involved in a fatal accident would be subject to a reckless homicide charge. The criminal law punishes people for intentional and reckless conduct, not for unforeseen and unlikely circumstances which result in tragedy. Unfortunately, the facts of this case do not explain why two young adults crossed a dangerous highway at night, wearing dark clothing, against the light, in the path of an oncoming, fully illuminated car and did not alter their pace to avoid being hit. The circumstances also show that Mr. O’Boyle was speeding, but his speeding did not, in this case, constitute the ‘recklessness’ required for a reckless homicide charge.”

Carr further said he hoped the incident would serve as a lesson to other drivers and pedestrians in the area.

“This is a tragedy for the community and for those personally involved,” Carr said. “All drivers on Route 13 would do well to consider what happened here. I offer my thoughts and prayers for the families and friends of Gavin Flynn and Ryan Reed and for Mr. O’Boyle and his family.”