Man sentenced for crash that seriously injured Porter County attorney’s daughter
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent March 21, 2013 3:23PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:12PM
Lake Superior Court Judge Salvador Vasquez imposed the maximum three-year sentence for a Portage man who pleaded guilty in a 2011 crash that seriously injured the daughter of a prominent criminal defense attorney.
Eric Lance Hecker Jr., 29, pleaded guilty to failure to stop at an accident involving serious bodily injury to another person. The judge revoked Hecker’s bond about eight months ago after he was charged with felony drunken driving in Porter County. He has another drunken driving case pending, as well as a theft and strangulation case.
“I feel he was intoxicated and that’s why he fled,” said Larry Rogers, whose daughter, Lindsay Rogers, suffered a torn aorta and other injuries in the one-car crash. “He left her to die in a cornfield.”
Lindsay Rogers, 25, didn’t attend Thursday’s sentencing hearing because she now lives in Florida. Her father said she cannot tolerate the cold weather. In addition to a six-hour open-heart surgery after being airlifted to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., Lindsay had her elbow reconstructed with metal parts. She suffered a deep cut on her forehead. In addition, a disk in her spine was shattered, causing bone fragments to become imbedded in her spinal cord. She is unable to work because of that injury, which could result in her paralysis if she has it surgically treated, Larry Rogers said.
The crash occurred Oct. 22, 2011, near 101st Avenue and Mississippi Street in Crown Point. Lindsay Rogers was one of three passengers.
Hecker’s mother, Patricia Ann Vann, offered a tearful apology to the Rogers family for her son’s actions. “I am so sorry for what happened. It was a mistake.” Vann said she thinks her son has learned from the experience.
Hecker’s attorney, Andreas Kyres, noted that his client has an alcohol addiction. Hecker, who has five misdemeanors and one prior felony for animal cruelty, has admitted his responsibility for the crime and has had plenty of time to reflect on his actions while sitting in jail, Kyres said. He argued for a sentence in the Lake County Community Corrections Kimbrough Work Program.
Deputy prosecutor Mark Watson said Hecker’s criminal history shows a pattern of criminal behavior — while Hecker was free on bond or serving probation in a case, he would commit another offense. Watson asked for the maximum sentence.
“I apologize to the victim and her family and I ask the court to be as lenient as possible on my behalf,” Hecker said. “I do have a problem and I know this.”