"It wasn't a minor accident," said Kate Lutz, describing the head-on crash where she and her fiance Todd Liepitz were hit by a SUV driven by the former Grayslake Police Chief Matt McCutcheon.
Lutz, 27, and Liepitz, 33, were driving home after a marriage preparation class on March 30. They were approaching the intersection at Highway 45 and County Road C in Kenosha County when their car was hit head-on by McCutcheon's SUV.
. He was carrying his loaded weapon although he was off-duty the night of the crash, according to the Kenosha County Sheriff's report.
McCutcheon initially refused sobriety tests at the scene, but later submitted to the test. No injuries were reported the night of the crash. But Lutz said that the impact of the accident was still significant.
"It's not minor when you are sitting there watching a car come at you," she said. "We suffered a total loss of Todd's vehicle. Yes, insurance does pay for the car to its current value. But we were planning on keeping that car for at least another two years. Now we have to go out an buy a new car. We are only six months away from our wedding so we have other expenses to deal with."
She said they were happy that no one was hurt in the accident, but said the experience was traumatic.
"We saw the headlights coming at us, and heard their tires squealing," Lutz said. "I let out a little scream. Todd put his arm out to block me. The sound of the other the other vehicle hitting us was unbelievable. Our car was probably pushed back about 50 feet."
She said her fiance just kept asking, "Are you Ok? Are you OK? I just felt like I had been underwater for five minutes. I couldn't catch my breath."
She said McCutcheon never asked she or her fiance if they were okay and never apologized for the accident.
"Mr. McCutcheon walked over to our car and just said, "Wow. Wow." He just said "Wow" a lot," Lutz recalled.
Lutz said the pain from the accident set in later.
"The next day, both Todd and I were in exreme pain. We literally felt like we had been hit by a truck," she said. "Every bone in your body hurts. But we knew it could've been so much worse."
She said the accident could have had devastating consequences, instead of just causing major inconveniences.
"There is so much emotion coming out after an accident like this," Lutz said. "You are terrified, and thankful, and stressed, and relieved."
She knows they were lucky.
"Our lives could've been changed so horribly," Lutz said. "We could be planning a funeral now instead of continuing to plan our wedding. That situation would never have happened if that man was sober."
She said a police chief should have more regard for others' safety.
"I wonder, how many DUIs has he written?" Lutz asked. "And now he dares to do this himself?"
She said she is speaking out to say that the accident did impact their lives.
"Everybody is thankful that it turned out the way that it did," she said. "I think there is some hestitation to say anything because of who he is. But I didn't break the law, I didn't do anything wrong. I don't mind speaking out."
She and Liepitz got engaged in February 2010 and are planning an October 6, 2012 wedding. Liepitz is originally from Wonder Lake. Lutz grew up in Lindenhurst, and graduated from . She has been working at a Grayslake day care center for the past five years.
As she and her fiance continue to plan for happier days, she pleaded with other drivers to avoid a similar DUI accident.
"Please drive sober and always wear your seatbelt," Lutz said. "It can happen to anyone at anytime."