Driver who killed 78-year-old woman while fleeing a locksmith he didn’t want to pay gets probation

Zainab Suboh (Facebook)

CHICAGO — A Chicago man has been sentenced to probation for crashing into another car and killing a 78-year-old woman as he sped away from a locksmith he did not want to pay. Kurell Purnell, 20, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide with a motor vehicle on Wednesday, according to court records.

Zainab Suboh was riding with her husband and six other family members when Purnell’s Saturn t-boned their Kia Sorrento in the 3400 block of West Peterson on March 21, 2023, officials said. Purnell and everyone in Suboh’s car were injured. Her 81-year-old husband suffered the worst injuries and spent time in intensive care. The other five passengers—her son, daughter-in-law, and their three children—were not as badly injured, officials said.

Prosecutors said Purnell had called a locksmith after locking his keys in his car at a Skokie grocery store shortly before the crash. After the locksmith opened his car, Purnell said he had to drive to an ATM to get money for payment, according to prosecutors.

The locksmith agreed to follow him to a cash machine, but Purnell sped away and crashed into the family’s car at upwards of 65 mph, prosecutors said.

Judge Michael Hood accepted Purnell’s guilty plea yesterday and handed him 30 months of probation, according to court records. Purell must complete 75 hours of community service, obtain a GED, maintain employment, submit to random drug testing, and provide DNA for indexing by law enforcement, the court entry said. Prosecutors dropped three counts of aggravated reckless driving causing bodily harm that had been filed against Purnell, who has no other criminal background.

Suboh and her husband had been married for 60 years. They were driving to Chicago from Indiana and had nearly reached their destination when the crash occurred.

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