Michael Szot pleads guilty to drunk driving charges after fatal crash

Madeline Fox, Summer Managing Editor

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Michael Szot pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated driving under the influence in the car accident that killed a Northwestern student and another passenger.

Szot, who did not attend NU this year but was a rising McCormick senior at the time of the crash, was charged with nine counts of aggravated driving under the influence after the July 19, 2014 accident. He pled guilty to one count of aggravated DUI causing death in his Wednesday plea. Mihirtej Boddupalli, who was also a rising McCormick senior, and Sajaad Safiullah Syed, a 21-year-old Naperville resident, both died in the crash.

Szot, 22, could serve six to 28 years in prison or, if the judge finds extraordinary circumstance in his case, probation only. Szot’s plea was not part of an agreement between prosecutors and Szot’s attorney, said Paul Darrah, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. Judge Brian Telander will determine his sentence.

Szot initially pleaded not guilty to the charges in August 2014.

“This morning Michael Szot took responsibility for the tragic deaths of his two friends,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a news release. “His admission, however, can never erase what happened that evening and how his extremely bad decision to get behind the wheel of a car after he had been drinking and smoking marijuana took two young, promising lives.”

Szot drove the car into a water-filled quarry, and Boddupalli and Syed drowned. Szot escaped the car and survived.

At the time of the accident, Szot’s blood alcohol content was 0.14. The legal limit is 0.08. Szot also admitted he smoked marijuana prior to the accident, and authorities found a marijuana pipe in his possession.

He is scheduled to appear in court again Oct. 2, when the court will receive his pre-sentencing report — Szot’s complete background, including his family, personal and criminal history — after which a date will be set for his sentencing. Szot has been free on a $250,000 bond since July 21, 2014.

This post has been updated to include comments from Paul Darrah, spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office.

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