Judge lets indictment stand against driver in Beecher crash
Despite misleading testimony from a sheriff ’s deputy before a grand jury, a Will County judge Friday refused to dismiss an indictment against an Orland Park man charged in a crash in Beecher that killed a pregnant woman and her three young sons.
Sean Woulfe, 27, is charged with 16 counts of reckless homicide in the July 24, 2017, crash at Corning Road and Yates Avenue. Woulfe, who is free on bond while awaiting trial, was traveling east when he sped through a stop sign and slammed into a car carrying Lindsey Schmidt and her sons.
Schmidt and her 19month-old son, Kaleb, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Four-year-old Weston Schmidt died at Comer’s Children Hospital in Chicago the following evening and 6-year-old Owen died of his injuries two days later at the same hospital.
A Will County grand jury indicted Woulfe on the 16 counts in September 2017. Woulfe’s attorney, George Lenard, argued the indictment should be dismissed because the prosecution’s only witness before the grand jury, Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Henri Wright, provided testimony stating that Woulfe had told investigators he was familiar with the road at the time of the crash.
Police reports presented during a hearing Wednesday indicated the opposite and that Woulfe told investigators he was not familiar with the roadway or the area. Woulfe had moved to Beecher shortly before the crash. Court records indicate he currently lives in Orland Park.
Despite the misstatement by the deputy, prosecutors argued the indictment should stand and pointed to other evidence presented to the grand jury, including Woulfe’s rate of speed.
Will County Judge Daniel Rippy said that while he had concerns about the statement made to the grand jury, it did not rise “to the level of a violation of due process.”
Rippy noted that after Wright said Woulfe was familiar with the road, prosecutors asked if Woulfe made those statements to him directly. Wright indicated that he did not and that he was recalling what another deputy said.
Prosecutors allege that Woulfe was speeding in excess of 20 mph over the 55 mph speed limit, that he disobeyed a stop sign and that his reckless acts caused the death of Schmidt and her three children, who lived in Beecher. Two of the counts allege that he caused the death of Schmidt’s unborn child.
A Will County judge or a jury will determine Woulfe’s guilt or innocence on the charges. A trial date has not yet been set but Woulfe is scheduled to appear again in court on Sept. 6.