Anyone can be the victim of a crime, including the son of the top law enforcement officer in the county.
Zac Kelly, the 19-year-old son of St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, was behind the wheel when his car was struck by what police say was a drunk driver.
“It was a scary call to get that night, but we are grateful that Zac only had a couple of cuts and bruises and that everyone, including the other young man, allegedly driving drunk, was not seriously injured,” Brendan Kelly said.
The accident occurred around 2 a.m. Aug. 11 on Illinois 161 near Frank Scott Parkway in Belleville.
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Zac Kelly was stopped at a light when he was struck by a car driven by John Winters, 32.
Winters left the scene, but Swansea police officer Dan Voelker heard a Belleville radio dispatch asking police to be on the lookout for a dark colored car with heavy front end damage, said Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson.
Voelker spotted the Chevrolet near High Mount School and made a traffic stop. Voelker performed field sobriety tests on Winters, who was later transported to Swansea Police Department for other tests.
Winters was cited for driving under the influence, improper turn signal, improper lighting and improper lane usage.
“Officer Voelker did a great job. He did just what he was supposed to do. He monitored the radio traffic and stopped a dangerous driver,” Johnson said.
Zac Kelly’s car was totaled in the accident. He returned to the University of Kansas last month where he is a sophomore.
The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office typically prosecutes those accused of traffic infractions, including driving under the influence, but Kelly has asked for a special prosecutor to handle the case against Winters because of the conflict of interest.
Winters is next scheduled to be in court on Sept. 12.
“I think when the top law enforcement officer in the county has one of his children involved in a serious accident that speaks to the serious crisis that drunk drivers present,” Johnson said.