Charges were filed Tuesday against the driver in a crash that killed a pregnant mother and her three young sons near their northern Illinois home, officials announced.
Sean B. Woulfe, 25, was charged with 16 counts of reckless homicide, including two counts of reckless homicide of an unborn child, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Will County Sheriff’s Department announced.
Woulfe, of the 300 block of West 7th Street in Manteno, was driving in excess of 20 mph over the posted speed limit of 55 mph at the time of the crash on July 24, authorities said.
Lindsey Schmidt, 29, of Beecher and her sons, 6-year-old Owen, 4-year-old Weston and 19-month-old Kaleb were on their way to bible classes at Trinity Lutheran Church just after 8:30 a.m. when police said Woulfe blew a stop sign in his pickup truck and struck their sport utility vehicle near the intersection of Yates and Corning.
Schmidt, who was pregnant, and her youngest son Kaleb were pronounced dead at the scene. Weston died at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago the following evening, while Owen succumbed to his injuries two days later.
Authorities said Woulfe received a traffic citation that was dismissed earlier this month. Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said at the time the case remained under investigation and told the Chicago Tribune a resolution on the traffic citation could have prompted double jeopardy issues should more serious charges be filed later.
The warrant for Woulfe's arrest was signed Tuesday morning, authorities said, and Woulfe was taken into custody at his residence without incident at around 10:30 a.m.
"This is one of the toughest cases with children and whatnot to handle," Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said at a news conference. "I’ve been in this business 29 years and it doesn’t get any easier. We’re talking about three small children and a mother and it just doesn’t get easy, no matter how many years you put in."
Each of the reckless homicide charges are Class 3 felonies, with several of the counts making Woulfe eligible for an extended term of up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
"This is an unspeakable tragedy... because all the victims were from one family. I don’t think Mike and I have ever seen anything like this," Glasgow said, adding that prosecutors will be seeking an extended term "where it's appropriate."
Glasgow also praised the children's father for his handling of the tragedy, saying, "He's a god-fearing man and he has taken this as stoically as I imagine any father could do and he deserves tremendous credit for that."
"It's not something you ever even want to imagine," he added.
Officials said there was no evidence of the involvement of illegal drugs or alcohol in the crash, and Woulfe had no significant driving record prior to the crash as far as they knew.
Woulfe is currently being held at the Will County Adult Detention facility, officials said, with bond set at $1 million. He was expected to appear in court at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.