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Man pleads guilty, avoids prison time in DUI crash that killed 16-year-old McHenry girl

Caleb R. Rohrbach, 19, of Cary, pleaded guilty in the DUI crash that killed Danielle Thomas, 16, of McHenry, in March 2019.

The 19-year-old Cary man facing DUI and other charges in connection with the Wauconda crash that killed 16-year-old Danielle Thomas accepted a plea deal and is expected to avoid prison.

Caleb R. Rohrbach, 19, of the 300 block of Wooded Knoll Drive in Cary, was originally charged with three counts of aggravated driving under the influence of cannabis causing bodily harm or death, three counts of reckless homicide, two counts of aggravated reckless driving and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He took a plea deal offered by prosecutors and pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of aggravated reckless driving and one count of aggravated driving under the influence, despite previously pleading not guilty.

As part of the plea deal, Rohrbach will serve 20 months of periodic imprisonment, which will consist of the first 12 months being served through electronic home monitoring. He will also serve 48 months of probation and 200 hours of community service, court records show.

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If Rohrbach complies with the rules, he could get his last eight months of periodic imprisonment commuted.

Danielle E. Thomas, 16, of McHenry, was killed March 15, 2019 after Rohrbach’s car drove into the wrong lanes of traffic, striking her vehicle head-on near Route 12 and Case Road, prosecutors said.

Danielle was extricated from her gray Ford Focus and transported to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington where she was pronounced dead. Rohrbach was also extricated from his car and transported to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.

Two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old girl, who are McHenry residents, were passengers in the Ford. One of the 14-year-old passengers and the 15-year-old passenger were transported to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington with major injuries.

The other 14-year-old passenger was transported to Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital with minor injuries.

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Assistant Lake County State’s Attorney Lisa LeBoeuf said that Rohrbach’s vehicle was traveling over 70 mph and crossed a grassy median into oncoming traffic when he struck Danielle’s vehicle.

Rohrbach was credited for already serving 180 days in the Lake County Jail. As part of his probation, he was also ordered to refrain from consuming any drugs or alcohol, not possess any weapons and attend a treatment program.

The Daily Herald reported that Rohrbach expressed regret Wednesday before Judge Mark Levitt accepted the plea. “I pray everyday she is at peace and that we will reunite,” Rohrbach said.

Danielle’s family and other victims involved in the crash gave their consent to the plea deal, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Daily Herald reported.


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