Driver sentenced in crash that killed Orazio’s Pub owner
BY BILL BIRD email@example.com November 29, 2012 8:58PM
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:24AM
An elderly man with no criminal record has been ordered to perform community service work and placed on probation, for causing a traffic crash last winter in Michigan that claimed the life of the owner of Orazio Pub in Naperville.
The motorist, Kenneth Rau, “asked for forgiveness and said he was very sorry” for his role in the March 20 death of Angelo “Owen” Egizio, said Assistant Berrien County, Mich., Prosecuting Attorney Patricia Ceresa, who oversaw the case.
“He was very remorseful and very sad,” Ceresa said of the 71-year-old Rau. “It was heartbreaking for everybody.”
Rau was sentenced Thursday in a Berrien County traffic courtroom. Members of Egizio’s family, including his daughter, Michelle Egizio, were in attendance.
“It was very emotional,” Michelle Egizio agreed. Many of the men and women who were there to contest their traffic tickets or pay fines wept openly as details of the family’s loss and Rau’s part in the crash were made public, she said.
Ceresa said Rau pleaded no contest as charged to a moving violation of the motor vehicle code causing death. That is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail upon conviction.
The charge stemmed from a crash on a road five miles north of Benton Harbor, Mich., where Rau lives. Berrien County sheriff’s police in March said Egizio, 54, was riding his motorcycle when it collided with Rau’s vehicle.
Rau was driving in the opposite direction and made a turn in front of Egizio, and either failed to stop or was unable to do so before impact, police said.
Egizio, as required under Michigan law, was wearing a helmet. Paramedics took him to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, Mich., where he was pronounced dead.
Rau escaped the crash uninjured. He told police he did not see Egizio until it was too late for him to avoid striking him.
Ceresa said a judge ordered Rau to perform 100 hours of public service work as part of his sentence. He was also placed on a year of probation, fined and ordered to forfeit his driving privileges for a year, she said.
The judge also mandated Rau undergo a driver’s re-examination through the Michigan secretary of state’s office before those privileges are restored. Ceresa said.
No presentencing plea agreement was made in the case. Ceresa said Egizio’s family did not seek a jail sentence for Rau, and prosecutors did not do so because Rau has no criminal record.
“We definitely didn’t want him to have any jail time,” Michelle Egizio said Friday.
Rau is an elderly man who “wasn’t drinking or under the influence of drugs” at the time of the crash, she said. “It was just a very poor error in judgment on his part. He wasn’t looking, and it took my dad’s life.”
Michelle Egizio said “it was very hard” for her and her sister to testify about the tragedy during the hearing.
Rau at one point “asked if he could speak to me and my sister,” which the siblings allowed him to do. “He was very upset” and seemed genuinely remorseful, Michelle Egizio said.
“I think the sentencing was about what we expected, after talking to the prosecutor’s office,” she said. “I think we all thought the same thing,” that the Egizio and Rau families “will have to deal with this the rest of our lives.”
Owen Egizio was a lifelong Naperville resident who opened Orazio Pub on Center Street with his father, also named Angelo Egizio. They named the bar after family patriarch Orazio Egizio, who had run the Venice Tavern on Route 66 in Joliet.
Orazio Pub in May marked its 25th anniversary. Owen Egizio earlier this year planned a celebration there in keeping with Naperville’s small-town atmosphere and roots, a celebration that was subsequently marked by family, friends and patrons.
A Marine Corps veteran and father of two, Egizio was an athlete and a regular participant in “Tough Mudder” obstacle course events. He was also active in civic affairs, taking part in planning Naperville Downtown2030, the city’s blueprint for the future of the downtown area.