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Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison in Kane Co. Crash That Killed 11-Year-Old Boy

The following information comes from a Kane County State's Attorney press release. 

A Sycamore man has been sent to prison for driving with heroin and alprazolam in his body when his vehicle rear-ended a car, causing a crash that killed an 11-year-old boy and severely injured injuring another passenger in west-central Kane County.

Benjamin J. Black, 29, of the 1500 block of Sparkhayes Drive in Sycamore, was sentenced Wednesday by Circuit Judge James C. Hallock to 12 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $4,500 along with other statutory fines and fees

Black pleaded guilty on Nov. 14 to two counts of aggravated DUI  one a Class 2 felony and one a Class 4 felony. Black had faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Black was driving a 1999 Ford Expedition SUV westbound on Illinois State Highway 64 about 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27, 2013 in western Kane County. 

The Expedition crashed into the back of a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier in which 11-year-old Matthew Ranken of Sycamore was a backseat passenger. Matthew was killed, and a passenger in the front seat of the car, Teale Noble, was severely injured.

According to the Kane County Sheriff, the Cavalier was stopped, along with other vehicles, because of an earlier crash that had occurred further west on Route 64.

An analysis of Black’s urine taken immediately after the crash revealed the presence of heroin and alprazolam metabolites. Alprazolam is a controlled substance sold by prescription under the brand name Xanax.

According to Illinois law, Black must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. Black receives credit for at least 324 days served in the Kane County jail, where he has been held since his arrest in lieu of $250,000 bail.

“This horrible and tragic case was absolutely preventable. Mr. Black’s selfish, criminal choices have been devastating to Matthew’s family. I hope the sentence imposed by the court today helps Matthew’s family feel a sense of peace and justice as they move forward,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.

McMahon said this case should serve as a wake-up call regarding the dangers of heroin use. 

"There is nothing glamorous about heroin. It is a dangerous and highly addictive narcotic that leads its users quickly and uncontrollably down the path of self-destruction," McMahon said. "Although we are empathetic to issues of addiction, addiction does not excuse criminal behavior, particularly when it has devastating and lasting effects on others."

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