When Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Boomer slammed his cruiser into another vehicle at night in 2006, killing two brothers and leaving their sister with brain damage, he was driving at speeds of up to 103 mph without emergency lights or sirens activated, prosecutors said.

When Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Boomer slammed his cruiser into another vehicle at night in 2006, killing two brothers and leaving their sister with brain damage, he was driving at speeds of up to 103 mph without emergency lights or sirens activated, prosecutors said.


Under a proposed change in state law that lawmakers might now consider, police across Illinois would be required to activate their lights during any time they drive at high speed in response to an emergency.


“It just puts common sense in the law,” said Rep. Ron Wait, R-Belvidere, who introduced the bill.


In July, a jury acquitted Boomer on charges of reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving in connection with the fatal January 2006 crash at the intersection of State Street and Weldon Road.


Brothers Aaron Bachman, 21, and Daniel Bachman, 15, were killed when Boomer’s eastbound squad car struck a southbound vehicle driven by their sister, Kori Bachman, then 19. Kori Bachman suffered brain damage.


The intersection where the accident occurred is controlled by stop signs for north and south traffic.


In a statement distributed by Wait, the Bachman family said, “We hope this law will detour police officers from driving recklessly and prevent other families from experiencing senseless death or serious injury to their loved ones.”


It’s not clear when lawmakers might consider the bill. During the fall session, lawmakers generally focus on responding to any vetoes the governor issues during summer. Though lawmakers are in special session through Wednesday, they are expected to focus on education funding and capital construction.


Laimutis “Limey” Nargelenas, deputy director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said his group would need to study Wait’s bill before declaring a position on it. Still, he said it might be more appropriate to pursue the police on a department-by-department basis.


Boomer was operating within departmental policy when he drove west from Winnebago Corners on West State Street to answer a battery call from Rockford’s west end.


“If you’re approaching some sort of a crime in progress and you don’t want the individual to know that you’re arriving, at that time you may turn off the lights. If you’ve got a burglary in progress, you may not want to pull up to the burglary scene with your red lights and sirens on because that person is going to take off,” Nargelenas said.


“There are so many different situations out there,” he said. “That’s why I’m not sure about a law that says each and every time this must happen. We’d have to take a look at the unintended consequences of these types of bills.”


Specifically, Wait’s bill would require the driver of a police vehicle to “activate oscillating lights, rotating or flashing lights, sirens, or any combination of such lights or sirens during a high-speed vehicle response,” plus “use lights and sirens to warn pedestrians and other persons of his or her approach during an emergency response situation” and “drive with due regard for the safety of other persons and exercise due care when operating a police vehicle.”


Wait faces re-election in November. Rockford Democrat Greg Tuite is challenging him.


Aaron Chambers can be reached at (217) 782-2959 or achambers@rrstar.com.