Family of man killed in state trooper's car grieves

February 13, 2012 8:44:48 PM PST
Frank Caruso escaped one accident only to be killed while sitting in the back of a police vehicle to keep warm. An alleged drunk driver plowed his car into a state trooper's car over the weekend.

Prosecutors say the driver of the car that crashed into the back of the squad car admitted to having five glasses of wine before getting behind the wheel. They say his blood alcohol level was .249, more than three times the legal level.

Caruso had survived a serious accident on the icy highway minutes earlier without a scratch.

Caruso's large, tight-knit Italian family is still trying to come to grips with the death of the 42-year-old, who was the youngest of six children.

"Anger will not bring him back but forgiveness hopefully will ease our pain," said Mary Ann Caruso, mother.

Sitting in a state trooper's car after his own car had been wrecked in a crash minutes earlier, Caruso told his girlfriend by phone he was safe.

"The last thing he said was the cops are here," said Cynthia Avalos, girlfriend. "So I was heading out to meet him, resting assured he was safe. The cops were there."

Even though police had closed two lanes of Interstate 290 because of the earlier accident, he was not safe from the alleged drunk driver who ignored the lights and plowed into the back of the squad car, killing Caruso and injuring the trooper. That driver, 32-year-old Daniel Clark of Chicago, is charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence. He's being held on one million dollars bond.

Caruso's family has heard nothing about the suspect. They are more concerned with Frank's son and 5-month-old grandson Mateo. The family is still grieving the loss of Frank's father three weeks ago to cancer.

"This didn't have to happen," said Anna Marie Caruso, sister. "It didn't have to happen."

Family members remember a kind, caring man who worked as a house painter and loved music. Avalos and he had hopes of spending more time with his grandchild, getting married and having kids of their own. Now she's helping plan a funeral.

"The Lord wanted him. I don't know why, but the Lord wanted him now," said Avalos.

The trooper was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. He reportedly suffered a concussion. The alleged drunk driver, Clark, was not seriously injured.

Frank Caruso's family donated his organs, hoping to help other families from suffering like they are right now.