Prosecutors: Forest preserve worker who caused fatal crash had THC in his system

A seasonal Cook County Forest Preserve District employee who authorities say caused a fatal, five-car crash last month had the drug THC in his system at the time of the collision, prosecutors said.

Caleb Rallings of Hillside was ordered held on $50,000 bail Thursday after a hearing before Cook County Judge Marc Martin in Rolling Meadows.

Rallings, 20, is charged with aggravated DUI involving a death in the June 30 crash, which killed 44-year-old Giuseppe Gazzano of Bloomingdale. THC is a component of marijuana.

Rallings, who suffered a broken pelvis in the crash, remains hospitalized and did not appear in court.

As part of his job, Rallings was responsible for transporting four court-ordered community service workers to and from a forest preserve district work site, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Katherine Bird.

According to one of the community service workers riding in the F350 forest preserve dump truck Rallings was driving, Rallings “disappeared ” after they arrived at the work site, Bird said.

When Rallings returned 20 minutes later, he “appeared to be out of it,” Bird said, quoting the witness.

As the crew left the work site, a community service worker said Rallings drove erratically, ran a red light and pulled into a parking lot “at a rate of speed that caused the wheels to squeal,” Bird said.

After lunch, witnesses say Rallings drove north on Arlington Heights Road at a high speed and refused to slow down despite his passengers’ pleas, Bird said. Authorities later determined he was driving 81 mph, according to prosecutors.

At the intersection of Cosman and Arlington Heights roads, Rallings struck cars stopped at a traffic light, causing “massive damage to all five vehicles,” Bird said.

Authorities determined Rallings was driving 76 mph at the time and braked for only one second at the time of impact, she said.

A passenger in Gazzano’s car suffered a broken femur, and one of the community service workers suffered a broken leg, Bird said.

According to Bird, an Elk Grove Village police officer heard the crash and went to the scene.

Rallings got out of the truck, she said, and one of the witnesses told police Rallings caused the accident. A squad car camera captured police taking him to the ground, applying a stun gun and placing him in handcuffs, Bird said.

Rallings was subsequently taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights where doctors diagnosed a broken pelvis.

He next appears in court on Aug. 2.

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