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'Senseless and Tragic': Bond for suspect in drunk driving crash that killed three set at $2 million

Posted at 2:05 PM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 20:17:52-04

KENOSHA — Bond was set at $2 million for 40-year-old Timothy Vandervere, the suspect in an alleged drunk driving crash that killed three family members and injured another in Kenosha County.

Vandervere of Beach Park, Illinois, pled not guilty to all charges in his first court appearance Tuesday.

Charges include:

  • Three counts of reckless homicide, a felony
  • Three counts of knowingly operating a vehicle while revoked, causing death, a felony
  • One count of reckless driving causing great bodily harm, a felony
  • One count of knowingly operating a vehicle while revoked, causing great bodily harm, a felony
  • One count of operating a vehicle while revoked, a misdemeanor

Court Commissioner Loren Keating did not take the charges lightly.

“I understand they’re allegations but they go beyond tragic," said Keating. "They’re senseless and tragic. If convictions occur, there’s a likelihood of perhaps decades of incarceration.”

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said 67-year-old Dr. Michael Rizzo, 76-year-old Vincent Rizzo and Vincent’s 74-year-old wife, Mary, were killed in the accident Friday night in the Village of Bristol.

Michael died at the scene. Vincent and Mary died at local hospitals.

Michael and Vincent’s brother, 72-year-old Gerald, was the driver and lone survivor in their car. He was taken to the hospital with serious injures and remains in stable condition.

Sheriff David Beth said the crash happened at about 6:45 p.m. in the 21600 block of Highway 50.

The Rizzos were heading home from a fish fry in their Jeep when a white pickup truck traveling in the same direction rear-ended their car, causing it to flip over into a ditch.

Witnesses said the truck’s driver, Vandervere, was driving erratically at an estimated speed of 100 miles per hour when he hit the Rizzos’ Jeep, as described in a 911 call.

“I’ve got a white GMC truck was just tailgating me, swerving and he almost rear-ended me about three times,” the caller told the dispatcher.

Moments later he said to the dispatcher, “Oh my god, he just went off the side of the highway,” and then he noticed the truck driver left a track behind.

“He went through a lawn. There’s a fence down. I think he hit somebody on the side of the highway too,” the caller said.

“It does not appear based on the evidence there that Mr. Vandervere braked at all in an effort to avoid crashing into Mr. Rizzo’s vehicle,” Kenosha County Deputy Attorney Angelina Gabriele said.

Investigators confirmed evidence obtained indicated the presence of intoxicants on Vandervere’s breath.

A search warrant for legal blood was obtained, and his blood sample was taken. Results are still pending. Additional charges could be added when they’re released.

In 2005, Vandervere’s Wisconsin driver’s license was revoked after he was found guilty of a previous alcohol conviction.

Then in 2006, he was found guilty of an Implied Consent violation in Kenosha County, and convicted of causing injury while driving drunk in Kenosha.

Vandervere has a valid Illinois driver’s license.

He remains in Kenosha County Jail and will be back in court for a preliminary hearing April 18 at 9:30 a.m.