Bond set for man accused of killing DGN student with car

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Downers Grove Chief of Police Shanon Gillette announced on Tuesday, Feb. 26, that bond has been set for a Naperville man accused of striking 17-year-old Elizabeth Dunlap with his car causing her death.

Joseph Kucharski, 51, with a last known address in Naperville, appeared at a bond hearing Tuesday morning where Judge Liam Brennan set bond in the amount of $750,000 with 10% to apply. On Thursday, Feb 22, Judge Robert Miller issued a $5 million arrest warrant for Kucharski following the crash.

On Feb. 19, at approximately 10:55 a.m., the Downers Grove Police Department responded to a report of a person, later identified as Downers Grove North student Elizabeth Dunlap, who had struck by a vehicle in the intersection of Main and Grant Streets. An investigation into the incident revealed that Dunlap was crossing Main St. within the marked crosswalk, in conjunction with the “Walk” signal, when she was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on Main Street.

It is alleged that the vehicle crossed into the oncoming lanes and entered the intersection at Grant Street on a red light and that Kucharski was the driver of the vehicle. It is alleged that at the time of the crash, Kucharski had a blood alcohol content of 0.031 and exhibited signs of impairment when interviewed by police. It is further alleged that through the course of their investigation, authorities found two crack pipes, crack cocaine and other drugs at a hotel room in which Kucharski was staying. Elizabeth Dunlap suffered life-threatening injuries and was pronounced dead from her injuries on Friday, February 22.

“First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to Beth’s family and friends,” Berlin said. “They have suffered a devastating loss that no amount of time can heal. Their unimaginable heartbreak is shared by the staff and students at Downers Grove North High School, as well as the entire community. The loss of such a wonderful young woman, who was full of life, will have a profound lasting effect on the lives of countless DuPage County residents.”

Kucharski’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 15, 2019, for arraignment in front of Judge Brennan. He has been charged with one count of Felony Aggravated DUI-Alcohol/Drugs Causing Death and one count of Felony Reckless Homicide. He is eligible for up to three to 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections if found guilty.

Members of the public are reminded that this complaint contains only charges and is not proof of the defendant’s guilt.