After nearly three years, Alia Bernard, 27, was finally sentenced this month to seven years in prison for her part in the deadly Illinois motorcycle crash that left a couple dead. Bernard caused a chain reaction crash that took the lives of Wade and Denise Thomas. The crash occurred close to Route 47 and Smith Road, which is south of Elburn.
Amidst a tearful apology and Thomas family members recounting their time of grief and loss, Elburn remained emotional and fraught with grief. Due to the presence of a minor level of marijuana in her blood, Elburn's charge was upgraded to two felony counts of aggravated driving under the influence from a lesser charge. The prosecution admitted that the marijuana levels were insufficient to cause intoxication, but nevertheless Bernard was charged with driving under the influence.
The cause of the crash is murky, with several competing accounts of what exactly happened. Bernard claims she struck the Thomas' motorcycle because of the glare from the motorcycle's chrome. Court documents also suggest that Bernard sent a text at the approximate time of the accident. The true cause of the accident is still unknown, but Bernard is considered at fault and has pled guilty to aggravated driving under the influence.
Records show that a civil suit filed by the Thomas estate against Bernard was settled earlier this year.
After the sentence was delivered, the Thomas family and their friends could be seen cheering. They feel this is one step toward justice and finding closure. The Bernard family sat quietly for a few minutes after Bernard was taken away.
While this sentencing was the first step toward healing for the Thomas family, a statement written by the family was read aloud in court and stated, “We had to wait so long for justice. We still have a long road ahead ... learning to live our lives without them. I know they will always be in our hearts.”