Nation & World

Man abandoned semi-conscious girlfriend after DUI crash, then swam across a river, Illinois cops say

Emil Nichitoi ran away after crashing his car while drunk, police say, even though that meant leaving his injured girlfriend behind.

The 29-year-old is accused of driving his white Lexus into a utility box and utility pole while drunk early Monday morning, according to WLS. The vehicle then stopped in a wooded area next to the road, police say, and Nichitoi left his semi-conscious girlfriend in the front passenger seat of his wrecked car so he could run away.

That crash happened at around 2:20 a.m., WLS reported, but it would take five hours for officers to locate Nichitoi.

Police told Patch that they rushed to the crash and found Nichitoi’s shell-shocked girlfriend sitting in the car and still wearing her seatbelt. Officers rushed the woman to a nearby hospital. The empty drivers seat left police looking for a second person.

“We were calling in 50 other rescue and search volunteers because we were going to go all the way down the river,” Cmdr. Dan Shanahan told Patch. “But prior to that, that’s when we located him.”

Officers found Nichitoi at around 7:30 a.m. on Monday without shoes, a coat or socks in a hospital parking lot, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. The clothes he did have on were wet. The 29-year-old was found on one side of the Des Plaines River, police say, and he crashed his car on the other side.

Police alleged that the man “had injuries consistent with having been in a car accident,” according to the Journal & Topics, and also “had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath when officers made contact with him.”

Nichitoi didn’t confess to driving the car, police told the Journal & Topics, but officers still charged him with aggravated driving under the influence, improper lane usage, fleeing the scene of a personal injury accident, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol.

His girlfriend remains in the hospital with injuries that are not life threatening, according to the Patch. He’s due in court Wednesday for a bond hearing.