A Palos Park man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with a July 14 crash that killed one man and sent a family of four to the hospital.
Andrew Henderson, 24, has a Sept. 5 pretrial date on charges that he was drunk when his Dodge Durango SUV rear-ended another vehicle at the intersection of Route 126 and County Line Road, pushing the car into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
The crash killed Minooka motorcyclist and father of eight Ron Oswald, 57.
The family of four — including a mother, father, infant and toddler — were taken to Silver Cross Hospital following the crash.
Henderson, who is represented by a public defender, was arraigned Wednesday at the Will County courthouse, where he’s scheduled to go on trial before Judge Edward Burmila.
At the time of the crash, Oswald was on his way to a soldier sendoff with the Warriors Watch Riders. Known for his support of local servicemen and women and his efforts to educate the public on motorcycle safety, he was also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders and Will County ABATE (A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education).
Brian Wendholt, co-legislative coordinator for ABATE, said several of Oswald’s fellow riders showed up for the Aug. 8 arraignment.
“It’s hard,” Wendholt said, adding he called Oswald’s children immediately following the hearing to give them an update on the case. “They’re very grateful to have the support of all of Ron’s friends.”
One of those friends, Barb Fitzpatrick, said his death has left her shaken.
Fitzpatrick was supposed to be part of the soldier escort with Ron on the afternoon he was killed. Since his death, she hasn’t been able to bring herself to attend a Warriors Watch event.
“I’m trying to get back in the saddle, as Ron would want me to do,” she said. “It’s just very heartwrenching. Ron was with me all the time. He was the reason I got involved in Warriors Watch.”
She expressed anger at the man who stands accused in Oswald’s death.
“He did look remorseful,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t care. He took my best friend’s life.”
With Burmila also presiding over the Drew Peterson murder trial, it’s unclear whether Henderson’s trial could be delayed or assigned to another judge, Wendholt said.
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