Chicago Man Charged After Fatal Lake Shore Drive Crash

The crash killed a 26-year-old law student and left three others injured, including the driver

A North Side Chicago man has been charged after he allegedly drove the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive and collided with a taxi, killing a 26-year-old University of Chicago law student and injuring two others.

Erik Johnson, 23, was charged with reckless homicide and driving under the influence, police said.

Prosecutors said Sunday that Johnson, who is from New York but came to Chicago in 2008 to pursue a degree in business adminstration, had a blood-alcohol level that was more than twice the legal limit. His bond was set at $750,000.

Police said Johnson was the driver of a 2014 Subaru SUV that entered Lake Shore Drive driving the wrong way around 1:50 a.m. Friday near East Randolph Street, according to authorities. Officials said he was traveling south in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive when he collided head-on with a taxi that was carrying two passengers.

Laura LaPlante, 26, was taken to Northwestern Hospital along with a 24-year-old male passenger of the taxi where they were both listed in critical condition, officials said. LaPlante was pronounced dead just after 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Johnson and the 38-year-old taxi driver were also injured in the crash and taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County for treatment.

Johnson's father attended the court hearing Sunday and apologized, saying he is praying for LaPlante's family.

Officials at the University of Chicago said LaPlante was in her third year as a law student.

According to Todd Henderson, a professor of law at UofC, LaPlante was expected to graduate this year.

"Every student we have is smart and accomplished, but she stood out," Henderson said. "She was incredibly generous and kind and big-hearted. She had the ability to argue convincingly for her side without offender the other, which is rare."

Henderson said LaPlante had accepted a position to work for a law firm in Boston after graduation.

"I cannot make sense of the passing of such a wonderful, vital young woman who would surely have done so much in her life to make the world a better place," Dean Michael Schill said in an email to students and faculty. "At the same time, during Laura’s short time on earth she made an impact. Laura left each of us better human beings than we would have been in her absence."

It's the third time in recent years a wrong-way crash has occurred on Lake Shore Drive. Last week, Terrell Garrett was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was driving drunk the wrong way and hit and killed Joaquin Garcia and Fabian Torres.

In March 2012, two women and a man were injured in a three-car collision involving an allegedly drunk wrong-way driver on Lake Shore Drive.

Contact Us