A North Pekin man has been charged by the Tazewell County State’s Attorney’s Office in connection with the death of his friend in a rollover DUI accident in mid-July.
Jacob Lee Lehmkuhl, 22, formerly of Eureka, was charged Friday with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol involving a death, a Class 2 felony, and aggravated DUI, third offense, a Class 2 felony.
According to court documents, East Peoria police were called to the scene of an accident at 1:30 a.m. on July 13 at the intersection of South Pleasant Hill Road and Meadows Ave., East Peoria, where they found a silver Dodge Ram pickup tipped over on the driver’s side. Officers located the passenger of the vehicle, Matthew B. McDonald Jr., 23, of 110 Floss Mar Court, Apt. 5, partially pinned under the truck. He was not wearing a seat belt. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
A officer spoke with Lehmkuhl, who said that he and McDonald had just left Tony’s Friendly Tap, 709 E. Camp St., East Peoria, where they were playing pool and drinking alcohol. Lehmkuhl told the officer that the truck was travelling at approximately 70 mph when the crash occurred. Lehmkuhl told medical personnel at the scene that he had been fishing and drinking beer since 10 a.m. and had consumed approximately 30 beers. At the time of the accident he had a BAC of .187, more than double the legal limit to drive in the state of Illinois. Court records said that Lehmkuhl had a strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and was mumbling, according to court records.
Lehmkuhl told police that he was not driving the vehicle — McDonald was. However, investigators obtained video from the bar that showed Lehmkuhl in the driver’s seat and McDonald in the passenger’s seat as they left the bar. The video revealed that the two came into the bar at 12:30 a.m. and drank one beer and a shot before leaving at approximately 1:15 a.m. While Lehmkuhl repeatedly denied to law enforcement that he was the driver at the time of the accident, court records state that he told other people that he was the driver.
Lehmkuhl had one conviction for DUI in 2012, for which he was sentenced to 12 months of court supervision. Court records indicate that he did not complete the court supervision successfully. He also was arrested for DUI on April 14, which is currently pending. He is scheduled for a court appearance at 9 a.m. Tuesday in that case.
Tazewell County Coroner Jeff Baldi said Monday that McDonald died at the scene of positional asphyxia, a lack of oxygen due to the weight of the truck. There was no damage to his internal organs.
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin
Editor's note: In the original version of this story, the cities of residence of Lehmkuhl and McDonald were reversed, and McDonald's age was given as 22. The Times regrets the errors.