A 21-year-old man, who was reportedly the leader of an anti-drinking club in high school, has been charged with DUI and reckless homicide after the car he was driving plunged into a downtown Naperville quarry, killing two passengers.
Michael T. Szot, 21, of Geneva, was charged with four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing the death of another and two counts of reckless homicide. His bond was set at $250,000 Sunday.
Police said the crash took place just before 2 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of Aurora Avenue and Eagle Street in Naperville.
Police, citing preliminary information, said a 2007 Chevy Impala was driving westbound on Aurora Avenue when it left the roadway at Eagle Street, crashing into several trees and landing in a quarry.
Szot was able to escape from the vehicle and swam to safety, according to authorities. He was transported to Edward Hospital where he was treated and released.
Two passengers inside the vehicle, identified as Mihirtej Boddupalli, 21, of Lisle and Sajaad Safiullah Syed, 21, of Naperville, were unable to escape and were found by fire and police divers.
They were transported to Edward Hospital where they were pronounced dead.
“These guys were like brothers to me,” said friend Mohammed Kamran. “I’m a mix of emotions right now. I can’t think straight, I can’t process it right now.”
Boddupalli was a senior engineering major at Northwestern University in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science where Szot was also a senior.
“This is a terrible tragedy and a tremendous loss,” the university said in a statement. “Northwestern University extends our condolences to the family and friends of the victim.”
Officials said Sunday that Szot's blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was above the legal limit of .08 and that Szot had admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that day.
“Early yesterday morning, two young men tragically lost their lives because of a very bad decision made by an alleged drunk driver,” DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement. “People have got to learn that DUI crashes are not accidents and are 100 percent avoidable by not drinking before you get behind the wheel of a car."
The Daily Herald, citing minutes of a Geneva High School board meeting from 2010, reports that Szot was co-president of SADD, or Students Against Destructive Decisions, and helped plan Red Ribbon week, which often encourages students to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
The accident remains under investigation. Police are asking anyone with information on the incident to call Naperville Police at (630) 305-5285.