Victim's Family Upset as Plea Bargain Reached in Death of New Prague Man

February 12, 2018 11:06 PM

Family members of Philip Ilg say they are not happy the Sibley County Attorney's Office accepted a gross misdemeanor plea for a 16-year-old motorist charged with causing his death last June.

The 56-year-old Ilg was riding his bicycle on County Road 25 when prosecutors say the teenage driver was using her cell phone just seconds before the deadly crash.


RELATED: At State Capitol, a Push to Increase Penalty for Deadly Car Crashes Tied to Cell Phones

The teen was originally charged with a gross negligence felony, and the Ilg family said they were surprised when the Sibley County Attorney's Office told them they were dropping the felony charge in exchange for a gross misdemeanor reckless driving plea which does not include any time in a juvenile detention facility.

Ilg's wife, Karin, said the family asked the county attorney's office for a trial. They believed that was the route prosecutors were taking until she received an email from the prosecuting attorney indicating there would be no trial with the reduced guilty pleas.

"I was disappointed, and the entire family was not expecting to hear this, because we had been asked multiple times by the prosecutor if we wanted a trial and we continuously told him that is exactly what we wanted," Ilg said. "My husband would not want hate or an unjust sentence for the 16-year-old girl but, with that said, we would want to send a message to all young people that there are consequences when you choose to text and drive, or use any electronic device, and injure or kill someone."

Ilg also said she supports current proposed legislation that would allow prosecutors to have a simpler path toward charging people with a felony when the use of a cell phone, or any electronic device, while driving contributes to a crash causing great bodily harm or death.

"There does need to be more teeth in the laws if we ever hope to get to a place where the stronger penalties might cause people to reconsider and put their phones down while driving," Ilg said.

The Sibley County Attorney's Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Ilg family say they plan to attend a Tuesday morning court hearing, where the deal could be rejected by the presiding judge in Sibley County.


Jay Kolls

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