NEWS

Lawsuits next in Bachman tragedy; deputy cleared to return to work

Corina Curry

Lawsuits alleging wrongdoing on the part of Winnebago County, the Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Boomer are the next steps in an already more than two-year legal battle between law enforcement officials and the Bachman family of Winnebago.

The lawsuits, last in court in January, stem from the January 2006 accident between Boomer’s squad car and a Hyundai Accent carrying Frank and Kim Bachman’s three children. Brothers Aaron Bachman, 21, and Daniel “DJ” Bachman, 15, were killed, and their sister, Kori Bachman, suffered permanent brain injuries as a result of the crash just outside the city’s western limits.

According to court records, the cases are moving through the pretrial process, but parties have not set a date for their next hearing. Judge Ron Pirrello is presiding.

In the meantime, Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers said Boomer, who was placed on paid administrative leave pending the criminal charges against him, has been cleared to return to work.

A jury acquitted Boomer of criminal charges of reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving Monday after a weeklong trial. Today, Meyers said he spoke to the state’s training standards board, which reinstated Boomer’s legal status as a police officer.

Meyers said Boomer had to be on paid leave because he hadn’t been found guilty of any crime but also couldn’t legally serve as an officer while felony charges were pending.

Meyers said he expected to talk within the next few days to the deputy about returning to work.

All three civil suits — two filed by Frank and Kim Bachman and one filed by Aaron Bachman’s widow, Lindsey Bachman — ask for an unspecified amount of money for damages.

On the night of the accident, Boomer was traveling east on West State Street. Kori Bachman was attempting to cross West State Street, heading south on Weldon Road. The intersection is controlled by a stop sign for north and south traffic.

The lawsuits claim that Boomer was at fault because he was traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph and failed to activate his overhead emergency lights and siren. Boomer, through his attorneys, has contended that the accident was not his fault because Kori Bachman failed to yield to oncoming traffic.

Rockford attorney Dan McGrail, who represents Frank and Kim Bachman in the civil suits, said Monday that the jury in the criminal case didn’t hear everything there is to know about what happened the night of the accident and that more evidence against the defendants will come out in the civil cases.

Staff writer Corina Curry can be reached at ccurry@rrstar.com or 815-987-1395.