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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