1500 W Church St crash - Champaign

Photo: The News-Gazette 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) - A woman is charged with aggravated DUI for her alleged role in a crash that claimed the life of her boyfriend. 

It happened on Saturday night in the 1500 block of West Church Street in Champaign, The News-Gazette reports. Champaign police responded at 11 p.m. and found 33-year-old Markcus Williams trapped in a sport utility vehicle. His girlfriend, 32-year-old Valinda Bender, could be seen crying outside of the vehicle and trying to help Williams, per a police report.

Police investigators said Bender was the driver of a 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer when the vehicle left Church to the north and struck a tree. It ended up on its side and responders had to cut Williams out of the vehicle. 

Williams died at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. A coroner's report released Thursday said his cause of death was blunt force injuries.

Bender also went to a hospital, where officers said blood and urine tests found her blood-alcohol content level was 0.298 - more than three times the legal limit of 0.08. 

Police said they found empty vodka and tequila bottles when examining the crash site.

On Monday, Bender was charged with aggravated driving under the influence, a Class 2 felony charge that could mean three to 14 years behind bars if she is found guilty.

A warrant for her arrest has been issued by Judge Tom Difanis. She was not in custody as of mid-Tuesday. 

At the location of the crash and in front of the tree, a memorial for Williams could be seen on Tuesday. It includes balloons, lanterns and candles.

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