UPDATE: Woman's Death Not Related to 2012 Crash

By: WIFR Newsroom
By: WIFR Newsroom

UPDATE: BELVIDERE (WIFR) – No further charges will be filed against a man already serving time in prison after one of the victims of a drunk driving accident dies.

According to the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office, Mary Danielson’s death was not related to injuries she suffered in a car accident back in 2012.

She was the passenger in an SUV the night off-duty Rockford cop, Daniel Cruz crashed his car. Danielson was left paralyzed from the neck down. Cruz was sentenced back in May to eight years in prison.


UPDATE: BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) – A local woman who was left paralyzed after a car crash involving a drunk off-duty Rockford Police officer in 2012 has died.

Former Rockford officer Daniel Cruz is currently in prison for other charges related to the car crash that injured four women, one of which has now died. However, Cruz won’t be charged for her death.

Daniel Cruz won’t be serving any more than the 8 years he’s already been sentenced to, despite the recent death of Mary Danielson.

The 62-year-old died Friday night. She was paralyzed from the neck down after Cruz crashed into her car in 2012.

Danielson was one of four women in the vehicle when off duty officer tried to pass their car on Beloit Road in Boone County. Cruz was charged with Aggravated DUI, Aggravated Reckless Driving, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident. Boone County State’s Attorney Michelle Courier says those charges likely will not be upgraded.

“This case took into consideration the injuries, they took into consideration the fact that her life span had been shortened because of her injuries, so the judge when making his determination took all of that in consideration as part of the sentence,” said Boone County State’s Attorney Michelle Courier.

Courier says the sentence was suitable. Aggravated DUI usually ranges from 4-15 years in prison.

She says she'll look into the case, however she's not sure there's much she can do because as far as upgrading Cruz's charges.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Daniel Cruz’s family says they feel their son’s sentence doesn’t fit the crime.

Daniel Cruz’s mother says after court today she feels the judge was making an example out of her son and that the sentence was too harsh, but prosecutors say they’re not only happy with today’s decision, they say the penalty could have been harsher.

Cruz will spend the next eight years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI. The former Rockford Police officer was drunk while driving in rural Boone County. He collided with two vehicles on Beloit Road near Poplar Grove, one of the cars, an SUV, had four people in it. The SUV rolled over paralyzing one of the passengers. Police arrested Cruz that night when people noticed he was walking away from the scene.

“A woman is paralyzed. A life is destroyed and even though she isn’t dead she is now basically sentenced to a life of chronic pain and illness. Boone County has worked very hard to get the absolute maximum they can,” said Kelly Krenzer with Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.

The defense argued that prison time would only make the lives of Cruz’s family and particularly his children, harder. However, the judge says he feels Cruz is not the victim in this case. Cruz was sentenced to eight years but he’ll only be required to serve just under seven years.

Cruz will start serving his sentence immediately. Defense Attorney Paul Vella says he felt the sentence is unfair and that they will appeal the judge’s decision.


UPDATE 5/15/2014: BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- Daniel Cruz, the former Rockford Police officer who plead guilty to aggravated drinking and driving, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Police say in May 2012, Cruz was passing an SUV in a no-passing zone southbound on Beloit Road when he struck a pick-up truck and collided with the SUV near Townhall Road.

All four passengers of the SUV were taken to the hospital, one of the passengers was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a spinal cord injury. Following the crash, Cruz began walking away from the scene and was stopped by a firefighter approximately ¾ of a mile from the accident scene. Cruz refused all chemical testing. A search warrant was then obtained for an involuntary blood draw. Lab results later revealed Cruz’s blood alcohol content to be .14 grams per deciliter.

Cruz was a thirteen-year veteran of the Rockford Police Department who was off duty at the time of the crash. He is no longer with the Department.

We will have the latest information on this story tonight on 23 News.


UPDATE 3/3/2014: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Rockford cop accused of drinking and driving has plead guilty to two counts of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol.

Police say in May 2012, off-duty Rockford cop Daniel Cruz was passing an SUV in a no-passing zone southbound on Beloit Road when he struck a pick-up truck and collided with the SUV near Townhall Road.

All four passengers of the SUV were taken to the hospital, one of the passengers was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a spinal cord injury. Following the crash, Cruz began walking away from the scene and was stopped by a firefighter approximately ¾ of a mile from the accident scene. Cruz refused all chemical testing. A search warrant was then obtained for an involuntary blood draw. Lab results later revealed Cruz’s blood alcohol content to be .14 grams per deciliter.

Cruz was a thirteen-year veteran of the Rockford Police Department who was off duty at the time of the crash. He is no longer with the Department.

Cruz is scheduled to be sentenced on May 15, 2014, at 9 a.m. Aggravated Driving under the Influence is a Class 4 Felony with special sentencing guidelines that is punishable up to 12 years in the Department of Corrections.


UPDATE 5/22: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A Rockford cop accused of drinking and driving will be back in court next month. It's an update you wanted to see covered on Facebook.

Daniel Cruz was arrested in Boone County earlier this month.

Police say he was drunk when he slammed his car into a SUV sending all four passengers to a hospital. Cruz is a 13-year veteran of the Rockford Police Department. He was off-duty at the time of the accident. A status hearing is scheduled for June 1. He remains on paid administrative leave.


UPDATE: The Rockford Police Officer accused of drinking and driving has been placed on administrative leave.

Daniel Cruz was arrested in Boone County on Monday. Police say Cruz was passing a SUV in a no passing zone on Beloit Rd. when he struck a pickup truck and collided with the SUV. All four passengers were taken to the hospital and one is in critical condition. Cruz has been charged with a DUI among other charges. He's a 13 year veteran of the Rockford Police Department. The city says it won't comment any further.

Due to this arrest, Officer Cruz has been put on Administrative Leave (with pay) and has been relieved of his police powers.

BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- On Monday just after 9:00pm, the Boone County Sheriff's Department responded to a vehicle crash on Beloit Road, near Townhall Road.

Initial investigation shows that a van, driven by 37 year old Rockford Police Officer Daniel A. Cruz, was passing a SUV in a no passing zone and on a hill. Cruz's vehicle and the one he was passing were both traveling south on Beloit Rd.

Cruz's vehicle was still in the wrong lane when it struck an oncoming pickup truck in the Northbound lane on Beloit Road. Cruz's vehicle also came into contact with another SUV. The driver of the truck and Cruz were not injured. All 4 passengers of the SUV were taken to an area hospital, one suffering from critical injuries.

Cruz was arrested and charged with Agg. DUI, Agg. Reckless Driving, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, improper passing, improper lane usage, and no insurance. He bonded out Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Rockford Register Star, Cruz, a 13-year veteran of the department, and reportedly was off-duty when the accident happened.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by question Location: boonies on May 25, 2012 at 07:33 AM
    Does anyone have a update on the poor woman ,still hospitalized,immobile. Why does not these 'news' services like local radio not ever give a update?? Everytime a off-duty kills or critcally injures someone the press does little further coverage.
    • reply
      by Dan Stone on May 25, 2012 at 09:44 AM in reply to question
      Hey Question, The reason why we don't give you a health update is because HIPAA laws only let us find out the "condition report," which is very ambiguous and tells us very little about the situation. Often there is no change for what seems like a very long time. Unless the family approaches us, we're up to our necks in legal red tape getting that information.
      • reply
        by t-tom on May 26, 2012 at 07:06 AM in reply to Dan Stone
        Thanks for the update. your response is a perfect e xample of a media company using comments section to inform and EDUCATE. I like the fact someone cares enough to answer a honest question and not to be harrassed,derided,laughed off or hung up on.pls keep up prayer circle and keep them coming.
  • by Albert on May 24, 2012 at 03:57 PM
    Innocent until proven guilty is all I have to say.
    • reply
      by Dave on May 25, 2012 at 09:29 AM in reply to Albert
      Albert I agree with your assessment. It is innocent until proven guilty when it comes to police officers, politicians and those in favor with Rockford PD, judges or states attorneys. Everyone else is guilty until proven innocent.
  • by bam bam on May 22, 2012 at 09:45 PM
    No one is perfect. No person should every judge you, ever. But, ya ever notice that the people that judge people are the ones that don't even know them? How's that work out?! I have worked and know officer cruz for over 12 years now, and he has always been professional and courteous whenever i have talked or worked with him. He messed up, major, no doubt about it, but it could've happened to me or you just the same! There is tremendous stress to be a cop these days, and when you leave your house at night, and stand a 50/50 chance of not coming back home because you were killed in the line of duty, life goes on for everyone else right? He has to be punished accordingly to law, and i will pray for the people that were injured, but it is just a bad scene altogether. Hang in there cruz!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 23, 2012 at 04:58 AM in reply to bam bam
      This could not have happened to me. I do not drive drunk like a fool at put others at risk.
    • reply
      by Tracy on May 24, 2012 at 03:55 PM in reply to bam bam
      I agree bam bam. We all have at one time or another gone and had a drink or two at dinner and left without thinking this could happen. All except for those perfect individuals that have no skeletons in their closet. Dan has always taken a cab when he felt he needed to. He is an amazing person and I don't think people should judge him. We all have to take a look at ourselves to see what we do wrong. I believe we are all imperfect so don't judge. I too pray for the person in the hospital that she will be okay. By the way he didnt leave the scene and he does have insurance and one more thing he is innocent until proven guilty.
      • reply
        by question on May 25, 2012 at 07:35 AM in reply to Tracy
        Cruz was charged with leaving the scene of an accident. believe it or choose not too. Why didn't he use his cell to call for help,STAY and HELP administer first aid.
  • by LUVIE Location: Rockford on May 22, 2012 at 09:29 PM
    Wonder how many DUI arrests and no insurance tickets he handed out himself! Wow what an example he is! Praying for the injured passengers and their families!
    • reply
      by Dave on May 23, 2012 at 04:58 AM in reply to LUVIE
      Exactly!
  • by taxpayer Location: Rockford on May 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM
    All you people who are defending this guy should stop and think about the innocent people he hurt. There is NEVER EVER an excuse to get behind the wheel of a car when you are DRUNK. No insurance is an inexcusable act. I expect police officers to live a life different than the criminals they are trying to protect us against. He needs to be fired.
  • by John Location: Roscoe, IL on May 22, 2012 at 07:45 PM
    It's disgusting. On vacation with full pay with our tax dollars. Suspend for what? Make your bed, now lay in it.
  • by Anonymous on May 22, 2012 at 06:45 PM
    what ab example this idoit set.1.driving without insurance. and a dui i say they hang him.another fine example set by the police of rockford
  • by JJ Location: N IL on May 22, 2012 at 04:47 PM
    Man has problems and he is human ever think being a cop is very stressfull and maybe he has more than a drinking problem maybe Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. Who knows what he did is wrong and no Ins he sure knew that was against the law like DUI. But I'm sure none of you have ever messed up so you be judge and jury.Prayers for all victims and rouge Cop. just remember next time you mess up you get judged too and convicted good for one good for all.OH and I wonder how may of you may have used him when you needed a Officer of the Law he was OK then wasn't he? Rockford Home of the Few Perfect People On This Earth.
  • by Ron Location: Rockford on May 22, 2012 at 04:19 PM
    I have never seen such stupid remarks made to an article. First off, if you have not walked in a man's shoes (as I have) you have no room to make comments. I have not seen a single Law Enforcement Officer make any remarks on here. All I have seen is people who don't know what they are talking about. That also goes for the person who spewed words against the local news stations. You would have been made if they had reported it and made mistakes in the report. They at least had the common courtesy to check the facts first before reporting it. So I really think that all of you should just be quiet and let the case take it's course. Quit putting down the PD, because if you were in trouble who would you call??? The police. that's who> As for the victims, they have been in my prayers since I learned of the accident. God Bless all.
    • reply
      by Dave on May 23, 2012 at 05:03 AM in reply to Ron
      Ron tell me what we do not know. He broke the law. The same law he has locked others up for time and again. So he is not only a drunk driver he is a hypocrite. Tell me what is stupid about ALL of us being angry that this same person that crushes others for DUI is now involved in this incident. Walk in his shoes???? I will tell you the same thing I tell teachers that cry about wage and benefits. Why would we make that same mistake. If he is not up for the job then quit. Do not use the job as an excuse. It is shameful.
    • reply
      by Really? on May 23, 2012 at 01:39 PM in reply to Ron
      You are right Ron. I have never driven drunk, and I have never driven drunk without insurance, and I have never driven drunk, without insurance while being employed as a police officer. How dare I comment.
  • by Tim Location: Rockford on May 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM
    This sorry, pathetic excuse for a human being (and even sorrier excuse for a police office) should be locked up and NEVER allowed to carry a badge again. As an officer of the law he should probably know first hand the dangers and tragic effects of drinking and driving, yet he does it anyways. In my book that makes him no different than some gun toting thug. He deserves NO mercy, NO sympathy.
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