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Aurora man charged in chase, crash posts bail

Billy J. Cole, Jr. (left) crashed a car in Aurora that was not his as he fled Kane County Sheriff’s deputies. (Kane County Sheriff’s Office Handout)

About eight days after he was taken into custody hundreds of miles away, an Aurora man who police say fled a local hospital to avoid arrest posted bail for his release from Kane County Jail.

Bail for Billy J. Cole Jr. had been set at $75,000 for a handful of felony charges connected with a police pursuit, crash and foot chase March 27 in Aurora. Cole was released Saturday afternoon after his stepbrother posted the $7,500 bond, Kane County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Patrick Gengler said. Cole is due back in court Wednesday.

While Kane County deputies initially took Cole into custody, medics took him to Rush-Copley Medical Center. He stayed one night and, while left unguarded, walked away the next day as officials were preparing a warrant, Gengler said.

Cole, 38, eluded authorities for about two days, until they got a court order for his cellphone records and found he was in Quincy, Gengler said. U.S. marshals took him into custody, Gengler said.

He faces charges of aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, a class 3 felony; aggravated reckless driving causing great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement, a class 4 felony; leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, a class 4 felony; driving on a revoked license where two or more people were injured, a class 4 felony; driving on a license revoked for DUI, a class 4 felony; resisting or obstructing a peace officer, a class A misdemeanor; and disobeying a stop sign, a traffic offense.

At the time of the crash, Cole was out on bail on unrelated charges of attempted murder and aggravated drunken driving.

Cole’s attorney in the attempted murder case, who took over for a public defender Dec. 15, has not responded to a phone message seeking comment. Reached by phone Saturday, Cole said he was looking into getting a different attorney. He declined comment on the case.

When medics took Cole to the hospital, the sheriff’s office didn’t know the full extent of his criminal record, Gengler said.

"By the time we found out his criminal history, he was gone," Gengler said.

The sheriff’s office, under the impression Cole was likely to be there for another day, didn’t assign an officer to watch him at the hospital, Gengler said

"We weren’t going to bring him to jail that night," Gengler said. "Had they said he would be released, that’s a different decision."

If the sheriff’s office had more information at the time, they might have posted someone there, Gengler said. Lieutenants will meet later this week to discuss what they should have done, what they should do in the future, review the facts of the case and seek opinions from people who weren’t involved that day, Gengler said.

How law enforcement handles people they plan to charge in car crashes that also require medical treatment is decided on a case-by-case basis, Gengler said. The default is not to send an officer to guard each suspect. Officials look at a variety of criteria including the nature of the injuries, severity of the charges and imminence of the person’s arrest, Gengler said.

To Gengler’s knowledge, Cole, knowing he would eventually be arrested, walked out of the hospital before he was medically discharged.

"Putting an officer down there wouldn’t guarantee he would stick around," Gengler said.

Since Cole was 18, he has served time for several criminal convictions, most recently discharged from prison in October 2014, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Cole also is facing felony charges including attempted murder, class 3 felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor DUI in connection with a December 2015 attack in Aurora while he was driving a Chevrolet Malibu with three passengers, according to court records.

About two months after his release from Kane County Jail by posting $5,000 bond in the attempted murder case, Cole was charged Dec. 20 with two counts of aggravated DUI on a suspended or revoked license, both class 4 felonies; reckless driving, a class A misdemeanor; and driving with license revoked, a class A misdemeanor, according to Kane County court records.

Court records indicate Cole did not sign conditions of bond, which included abstaining from alcohol and driving, on the December DUI case, but was released again Feb. 15 on a personal recognizance bond by Judge Donald M. Tegeler Jr.

hleone@tribpub.com

Twitter @hannahmleone