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Charges appear headed for dismissal in boating death

Not enough evidence to convict boater of DUI, prosecutor says

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 8:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:02 a.m. CDT
Marc Mongan
Megan Wells
Eric D. Morrow

OREGON – Misdemeanor DUI and reckless driving charges filed against an Oregon businessman whose boat collided with another in June, resulting in the death of Rockford woman, likely will be dismissed for lack of evidence, Ogle County State's Attorney Eric Morrow confirmed.

Marc W. Mongan, 47, was piloting an 18-foot motorboat on the Rock River about 3 miles north of Oregon on June 24 when he collided around 8:40 p.m. with a pontoon boat driven by David D. Daily, 53, of Leaf River.

One of Daily's passengers, his niece, Megan Wells, 31, was thrown from the boat and died of blunt force trauma to the chest.

Mongan, owner of Oregon Healthcare Pharmacy Services Inc., pleaded not guilty July 6 to two misdemeanors: operating a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol and reckless operation of a watercraft.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued the citations and investigated the incident. Daily was not cited.

Morrow said Tuesday that he will not fight the defense motion to dismiss those charges because he does not have enough evidence to prove Mongan was drunk at the time of the crash: Mongan refused treatment, so no blood was drawn, and he declined to submit to a blood alcohol breath test. He did submit to a field sobriety test, which he failed.

As a result, per state statute, he lost his driver's license.

Because the IDNR officer who administered the field test failed to notify Mongan in writing that refusal to take the field test would result in the loss of his license – also required by state statute – it should be reinstated, his attorney, David Tess, also argues in his motion.

In December, Morrow failed to get a grand jury to indict Mongan on more severe charges of felony operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol and aggravated reckless operation of a watercraft. The first could have carried 3 to 14 years in prison, the second 1 to 3 years.

After listening to witness testimony, watching video statements and considering other evidence, grand jurors failed to find probable cause to charge him, which is necessary under Illinois law to bind a defendant over for trial.

Tess argues that no probable cause for the felony charges – which have the same elements as the misdemeanors, except that they also involve a death – means no probable cause for the misdemeanor charges, and therefore, no case.

As for the suspension, Morrow argues in his response that the court doesn't have the jurisdiction to reinstate Mongan's driver's license. To contest a suspension, a person must request an administrative hearing with the Secretary of State.

A pretrial hearing on the motion is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The charges could be dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could be refiled if further investigation warrants. If dismissed with prejudice, the same charges cannot be refiled.

Although the criminal charges appear headed for dismissal, a wrongful death civil suit filed by Wells' husband, Robbie Wells, accusing Mongan and Daily of negligence and of reckless operation of a motorboat, still is proceeding in Ogle County Court.

According to the suit, each was operating in a "negligent and careless manner," by driving too fast to stop, failing to signal while approaching or passing each other's boats, failing to pass the oncoming boat without interfering with its path, and failing to take the necessary actions to avoid the collision.

Wells is suing for damages in excess of $50,000, on behalf of himself and the couple's three minor children, two boys and a girl.

In their Oct. 14 response to the complaint, Mongan and Daily deny any negligence or recklessness.

A status hearing is set for June 16 in that case.

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