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Driver in fatal Waukegan crash ‘blazing through town’

Donald Mischke

Donald Mischke

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Updated: February 23, 2013 2:19AM

Elisha Clark-Idelburg, 25, was a single mother who had picked up a second job so she could buy her 8-year-old son Christmas gifts.

The Grayslake woman was on her way home around 2 a.m. Dec. 23, 2010 when Donald Mischke went through the intersection at Green Bay Road and Belvidere Road “like a missile,” causing a collision that killed her on the scene, prosecutors said.

Mischke, 56, was on trial this week before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Mark Levitt in a bench trial for first-degree murder and aggravated DUI charges.

The Lisle man took the stand in his own defense on Thursday. He admitted under oath to driving to the Waukegan Target, 3050 N. Lewis Ave., stealing a 32-inch LED TV and then fleeing from police. He also admitted under oath to the collision.

Mischke testified that he was trying to get money to go to Minnesota. He had recently lost his job and failed to get approved to rent an apartment.

“I was getting desperate. I was angry, upset, depressed,” Mischke testified.

He said he saw police approaching him as he left the Target, but drove away. He spoke of driving thorough Waukegan, noting that at some point police stopped chasing him. He claimed he looked down for his cellphone as he approached the Green Bay and Belvidere Road intersection.

“I saw it was a red light. I knew I couldn’t make the stop. I saw a flash and tried to hit the brake,” Mischke testified.

He also testified the fastest he drove was 60 mph. This was in contrast to evidence prosecutors Mary Stanton and Reginald Mathews presented. Mischke drove “at a rate over 100 mph,” Stanton said.

“He was blazing through town. He (went) through the intersection like a missile ... he was driving like a bat out of hell through Waukegan, taking the life of an innocent woman,” Mathews said.

Mischke also testified that he had used crack cocaine “two and a half” days before the accident. He told a Waukegan detective he had smoked crack “much earlier” than the accident on the recorded interview played during the trial. On the stand, Mischke denied telling any responders at the scene he was still high on cocaine.

A urine test showed he had cocaine in his system, according to prosecutors. A trauma nurse who treated him testified Mischke had said he was on crack cocaine, Stanton said.

Defense attorney Chris Lombardo said the incident was a “tragic, tragic case.” Lombardo said that the state had not proved Mischke was “so impaired by cocaine he was incapable of driving safely.”

Levitt is expected to render his verdict Jan. 3.

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