Former officer will spend about 13 days in jail

Kevin Sampier

A former El Paso police officer was sentenced Monday to probation and what will amount to less than 15 days in jail for sending nine people to the hospital after an alcohol-related crash last year.

Greg A. Heiken, 38, was sentenced to two years of probation, 30 days in the Tazewell County Jail, a $1,500 fine and ordered to perform 150 hours of public service by Judge Timothy Lucas.

Heiken appeared in Tazewell County Circuit Court for the sentencing hearing after previously being convicted of one count of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol.

Heiken had been a 13-year veteran of the El Paso Police Department before the December 2006 wreck and had worked as a full-time emergency medical technician for the city’s rescue squad.

Heiken was headed north on Main Street (lllinois Route 116) in East Peoria approaching Highview Road about 5:45 p.m. Dec. 11 after drinking at the Par-A-Dice Casino when he rear-ended a Lexus sport utility vehicle, police said.

Five cars were lined up at the stoplight when Heiken’s truck hit the SUV, according to court records. The impact sent the SUV forward and on top of a Chevrolet Corsica stopped in front of it before it spun off.

Heiken’s truck then slammed into the back of the Corsica, causing a four-vehicle chain-reaction crash.

Nine people were sent to area hospitals with various injuries, but no one was killed.

"It was a huge mistake in judgment on my part," Heiken said before the sentence was handed down. "I’m truly sorry and I apologize to everybody."

He will receive day-for-day credit on the 30-day jail sentence, which cuts that time in half. With credit for the two days he spent in jail after his arrest, Heiken will spend about 13 days in jail, said Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz.

Lucas said 98 people sent letters of support on Heiken’s behalf, including people he had helped as an EMT.

Before the accident, Heiken had been honored for his DUI arrests as an officer.

Lucas said through the hours of public service, Heiken can still prevent DUIs, "you’ll just do it without your uniform."

Heiken will be required to speak to schools, DARE programs and other organizations about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300 or ksampier@pjstar.com.