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Dees gets max for Dorwin death

Accident occurred last November

This cross sits at the location where Carter Dorwin died last November, along Highway H in the Como Flats.

WHY DID THE ACCIDENT OCCUR? Initial reports after the gruesome Nov. 16 accident indicated alcohol was a factor. After all, a portable Breathalyzer showed Jeremy Dees had been drinking, and he was driving his Jeep well beyond the speed limit and in the wrong lane of traffic. Dees also has a history of alcohol-related offenses including three prior drunken driving convictions and misdemeanor counts of operating a firearm while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. But, in his hospital room, Dees reportedly told a sheriff's deputy he didn't know why they thought he was drinking. That sheriff's deputy told District Attorney Phillip Koss that he believed Dees when he said he hadn't consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the crash. Toxicology reports later revealed Dees was sober that morning. John LaGalbo, an associate pastor at Mt. Zion Christian Church and a drug and alcohol and drug abuse counselor, said he worked with Dees in a Bible-based treatment program. Dees completed the program, but later relapsed. He returned to Mt. Zion Church and has reportedly been sober since February 2009. Despite his sobriety, Dees was making poor choices, according to LaGalbo. "Some would say he made a bad mistake, one made against counsel, but he found a girlfriend who happened to be married," LaGalbo said. "Mr. Dees had a child with this woman. That child became the apple of his eye, he had purpose to live and provide for his child." LaGalbo said Dees would regularly read the Bible, but "often took things out of context in the word of God." Days before the accident, LaGalbo said Dees had a "new found zeal for god," and expressed concerns about the devil. LaGalbo said Dees was displaying bipolar and manic depressive behavior. Dees has a family history of bipolar disorder. In an e-mail exchange with a colleague, LaGalbo wrote Dees is "going through a spiritual revelation and isn't handling it very well." At the church, the night prior to the accident, Dees demanded a prayer session at 3 a.m., later that morning he stomped his phone to pieces calling it an idol. Shortly after the incident with Dees, LaGalbo was called to console a family that had been in a horrific crash. He responded to the hospital where the Dorwins, who also attend Mt. Zion Church, were receiving treatment. "I did everything I could to minister to this family," LaGalbo said. Dees told LaGalbo before the accident that he wasn't sleeping much. "It is just possible, with lack of sleep Mr. Dees feel asleep at the wheel," LaGalbo said. As far as law enforcement is concerned, they don't know what caused the accident, but the tragic result remains the same. "We will never know for sure the exact circumstances that created the accident ... he had little sleep for several days," Koss said. "He didn't want to hurt anybody that day, but he did."
April 13, 2011 | 09:03 AM
Elkhorn — "The horrific site I witnessed was an image no mother should have to see of her child," Nicole Dorwin said while crying.

On Nov. 16, Jeremy Dees, 33, of Elkhorn, crashed his Jeep into Nicole's sedan on Highway H near the Como Flats. At the time of the crash, Nicole's children, Carter, 9, and Bradley, now 6, were in the back seat.

"I knew something really bad had happened before I turned around to help my children," Nicole said. "My 9-year-old son, whose face was unrecognizable, was dead. Just like that, on Tuesday morning on the way to school."

To escape her vehicle, Nicole had to kick open a broken door then climb through the swampy marsh to reach her youngest child, who was screaming in the back seat.

"I remember telling him, 'Bradley don't look, it's okay' as I was trying to calm him down," Nicole said.

On April 7, Nicole detailed the gruesome accident to Judge John Race during Dees' sentencing hearing. Dees was found guilty Feb. 11 to felony homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and two counts of misdemeanor reckless driving causing injury. Dees was speeding and driving in the wrong lane of traffic when the crash occurred.

Race handed down the maximum sentence to Dees, which is seven years imprisonment and five years of extended supervision.

During an emotional hearing, Carter's father, Chad and other family members expressed their grief for the loss of the Eastview Elementary student.

"As his dad, I won't be able to see my son turn into a man," Chad said. "If a parent has never lost a young child they have no idea the heartbreak."

When Dees was given a chance to speak, he expressed remorse for the accident, apologized to the family and said he will carry the guilt of Carter' death for the rest of his life.

"I would exchange my life for his," Dees said. "His memory will be forever embedded in my heart."

Despite initial reports, Dees did not consume alcohol prior to the accident. He said he doesn't remember the crash.

"The sorrow I carry for your entire family is very deep... I can't begin to identify with your grief for such a loss," he said.

Dees' defense attorney, James Duquette, said his client was immediately remorseful for the accident.

When police told him a child was killed he broke out into tears, Duquette said.

"Why God didn't I die, why didn't you take me," Dees said after he learned of Carter's death, according to the police reports Duquette read from.

Duquette said his client understood he deserved prison, but he asked for 2-1/2 to 3 years of incarceration. Dees also asked the judge for mercy.

"Judge Race please consider the fact I already have a life sentence," Dees said.

The loss of Carter

Family members and friends wept while photos of Carter playing with his brother, dressed for Halloween and opening Christmas presents played on a slide show.

The family also presented the judge with a photo album of Carter and District Attorney Phillip Koss kept a framed picture of the boy at the table facing the judge when family members discussed his life.

Chad, a truck driver, learned of his son's death while driving his semi south of Chicago. After learning of his Carter's death, he had to drive an 18-wheel truck, fighting city traffic, for five hours to grieve with his family.

Since the accident, Chad hasn't been back to work.

"I don't know if I can be behind the wheel all day thinking about what happened to my family," he said.

After the crash, Nicole carried Bradley to the road, when helped arrived she didn't know what to say.

"When the ambulance arrived they asked if anyone else is in the car," she said while crying. "I kept thinking Carter's body is in the car, but he's not there he's dead."

When she tried to tell Chad what happened after the accident she couldn't get the words out. Emergency personal had to tell Chad that they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do for his son.

"You don't know how alone and helpless I felt," Chad said.

She also talked about the pain of leaving the scene with Bradley in one arm and knowing Carter was still in the car.

Shana Klimek, who called herself Carter's auntie, said her family's world was shattered after the accident.

"How can you console someone, make things right for someone whose world was crumbled," she said.

Klimek also talked about how difficult it has been explaining Carter's death to his younger brother, Bradley.

"Bradley asked frequently where Carter was and his mom and dad had to tell him he is in heaven with Jesus," she said. "He also would ask 'Does that mean Carter isn't bloody anymore.'"

Klimek told the court about the challenges of planning Carter's funeral, horrific details of the crash and the emotional suffering the family has endured.

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