NIU student’s death ruled accidental

By Suzanne Tomse

The death of an 18-year-old NIU student, which occurred on the first day of fall classes, was ruled accidental by a DeKalb County Coroner’s jury last Thursday, who recommended that the traffic signal and speed limit be changed at the intersection of Annie Glidden Road and West Lincoln Highway.

DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said Kristine Conn, Oak Forest, died Aug. 29 from head, chest and abdominal injuries.

Conn was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Robert Rizzuto, 17, Oak Forest, which was broadsided by an oncoming car while making a left turn onto Annie Glidden Road.

Miller said an inquest is required in order to determine the manner of death of a victim in a traffic accident.

The jury suggested that a sign reading, “left turn on arrow only” be installed at the intersection, and that the speed limit near the intersection be reduced.

Miller said there currently is a left turn signal at all four traffic control devices at the intersection. However, motorists also are able to turn left on the green light when yielding to oncoming traffic.

Police report that the speed limit is 35 mph on Annie Glidden Road, and 30 mph on Lincoln Highway.

University Police Lt. Ron Wiliams said, “I do feel it (adding the sign) would be effective.” He said a possible problem at the intersection is that some motorists try to “beat the light.”

“A left on arrow only (sign) would slow people down and make them more cautious,” Williams said. He said, in his opinion, reducing the speed to 20 or 25 mph on both Annie Glidden and Lincoln Highway also would help to slow traffic.

Miller said he has forwarded the jury’s recommendations to the proper authorities in the state. He said because Lincoln Highway is a state road, state authorities will determine if the changes at the intersection are necessary.

At the time of the accident Rizzuto, who sustained only minor injuries, was charged with making an improper left-hand turn and failing to wear a seat belt. Richard Bragg, driver of the oncoming car, was not injured in the accident.