CROWN POINT — The mother of a man who died after a December crash along 109th Avenue said she knows a judge's decision not to reduce bond for the man accused of killing her son is just the beginning of her quest for justice.
Julian Tinoco, 20, of Winfield, died Dec. 10 after Richard Westerhoff, 29, of Lake Station, crossed a center line and struck three vehicles on 109th Avenue near Deer Creek Driver, Lake Criminal Court records state.
The crash also injured Joseph McCormick, of Winfield, and Lindsay Gang, of Cedar Lake, police said.
"We're surviving this tragedy day by day," said Tinoco's mother, Yolanda Coriano. "We have very strong support from family and friends."
Westerhoff had alcohol, cocaine and marijuana in his system at the time of the crash, court records allege.
Coriano said she was pleased Judge Diane Boswell refused to reduce Westerhoff's bond from $70,000 surety or $7,000 cash bail.
Westerhoff's court-appointed attorney, Jamise Perkins, requested bail be set at $2,500 and said his family would be able to post it Friday.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Kathleen Kurowski said Westerhoff was a threat to public safety, in part because he failed to successfully complete probation for a prior misdemeanor drunken driving conviction in Porter County.
Boswell agreed and ordered Westerhoff to enroll in an alcohol treatment program while he's incarcerated at the Lake County Jail. Westerhoff appeared in court Friday wearing a neck brace and using a wheelchair because of injuries he suffered in the crash.
Coriano said her son would have shown strength in the face of tragedy.
He was respected by his peers, disciplined and very smart, she said. Quiet but generous, Tinoco made time to help others.
"He definitely left a big impact on this community," she said.
Tinoco would have graduated in May from Ivy Tech Community College. He would have celebrated his 21st birthday March 17, she said.
Instead, his family was left to grieve what could have been as those milestones approach.
Coriano plans to follow the case against Westerhoff. She wants justice served, but she also hopes to raise awareness of the pain caused by drunken driving, she said.