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Woman Gets 4 Years in Crash

By ROB PHILLIPS, NORTHWEST HERALD - rphillips@nwherald.com

WOODSTOCK - After hearing emotional statements from the wife and children of Richard Seyller, McHenry County Presiding Judge Sharon Prather sentenced the woman who killed him in a drunken-driving crash to four years in prison.

Linda Mead, 50, must serve at least three years and four months of the sentence issued Friday.

Seyller's wife and two of his three children wept while explaining how the 60-year-old Gilberts man's death has affected the family.

"My father was a person who had more pride in his family than anything else and would always make sure others knew it," Richard Seyller's son, Andrew, said in court. "He was the rock that the Seyller family was built upon."

Mead, who has three prior DUI charges from the 1980s, was driving with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit Oct. 25 when her car crossed the center line and struck a vehicle being driven by Richard Seyller.

Mead quietly told the about 15 friends and family members of Richard Seyller who attended Friday's sentencing that she was sorry for her actions.

"What is so painful is that I can't undo what I have done," she said. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish it was me [who died]."

Mead's attorney, Henry Sugden, explained in court that Mead's drinking was spurred by remembering her late husband, who had committed suicide two years before. Sugden said that Mead recently had read the suicide note that her husband had left.

Prather said that although she had empathy for Mead losing her husband, it was no excuse for driving drunk.

"The fact that you have suffered tragedy in your life cannot and does not justify your imposing pain or tragedy on innocent citizens in our community," Prather said.

Mead is accused of crossing the centerline and striking Richard Seyller's car head-on about 11 a.m. near the entrance to St. John's United Church of Christ, 11821 E. Route 20.

Her blood-alcohol level was 0.289, above the 0.08 percent legal limit.

Mead pleaded guilty in July to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence, which carried maximum sentences of 14 years in prison.

Sugden asked Prather to sentence Mead to a term of probation; prosecutors were asking for the maximum prison sentence.

Debbie Seyller, Richard Seyller's wife, said that the four-year sentence was disappointing to the family.

"It's a very inadequate sentence for what our family has suffered," Debbie Seyller said.

Sugden said that since the accident, his client had stopped drinking and had no intentions of ever driving again.

Richard Seyller's family said there were countless family moments that their father and husband would not experience with them. Richard Seyller's daughter said one of those moments was her wedding day.

"Now when I think of the day that is suppose to be the happiest day in a girl's life, it makes me sick to my stomach," said Laura Seyller, 21. "My dad won't be there to walk me down the aisle and give me a kiss. On Oct. 25, 2005, that dream was taken from me because of a crash that could have been avoided."

Located in Crystal Lake, Illinois, the lawyers at Madsen, Sugden & Gottemoller, Attorneys at Law, represent clients in McHenry County, including the communities of: Crystal Lake, McHenry, Waukegan, Woodstock, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Cary, Elgin, Dundee, Barrington, Harvard, Marengo, and Johnsburg.

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