July 12, 2014

State suspends license of man accused in hit-and-run death of woman in Breese

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has suspended the driver's license of a man accused in the hit-and-run death of a young woman who was walking along a highway in Breese.

White has suspended the driving privileges of Jonathan Nast, 25, of Damiansville, according to Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White's office.

"Secretary White made a determination that Mr. Nast posed a danger to road safety," Haupt said.

White issued the suspension at the request of Clinton County State's Attorney John Hudspeth. Haupt said Hudspeth submitted more than 200 pages of documents in support of the suspension. The secretary of state's office was "impressed by the strength and thoroughness of the investigation," Haupt said.

Nast is free on a $2,500 cash bond while awaiting trial on charges of failure to report a motor vehicle accident involving death, as well as obstruction of justice.

Authorities say he took his 1997 Dodge pickup to a salvage yard in Murphysboro in the days following the accident, and wanted the truck crushed. The owner of the scrap yard has said Nast wanted to see the truck get crushed, and even asked if he could operate the equipment himself.

Nast is accused of failing to notify police within 30 minutes of striking the pedestrian, 23-year-old Lana Albert of Edwardsville. Her body was found shortly after 2 a.m. on June 7 along old U.S. 50, minutes after police received a report of a woman walking in and out of traffic on the highway.

Illinois law allows the secretary of state to suspend the driving privileges of a motorist who is charged with failing to report an accident involving injury or death. The secretary of state can choose to impose the suspension even before the case goes to trial, and even if the case does not involve allegations of impaired driving.

Haupt said the suspension will be in effect at least through the resolution of the criminal charges.

Both Nast and Albert had been at the same Breese bar, Big Stix, though not together.

Meantime, the city of Breese is looking into curtailing the hours of operation for bars. The city currently allows bars to remain open and continue selling liquor until 3 a.m., as long as they close the doors at 2 a.m. and don't allow anyone else to enter.

Mayor Charlie Hilmes, who serves as the city's liquor commissioner, has proposed moving the closing time up one hour. In recent years, according to Hilmes, the city has had a general increase in alcohol-related traffic citations and violence in the early-morning hours.

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposal on Aug. 5.

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