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Bail set at $500,000 for off-duty cop accused in double-fatal DUI crash

North Chicago Police Officer Terrell Garrett

North Chicago Police Officer Terrell Garrett

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Updated: April 19, 2013 6:25AM

The mothers of Joaquin Garcia and Fabian Torres sobbed in a Chicago courtroom as a prosecutor explained how a North Chicago cop got drunk Friday “because it was his birthday,” drove the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive and killed their sons.

And soon the two mothers — who said they had never met — joined family members who together blasted Cook County Judge James Brown’s decision Sunday to order Terrell Garrett held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

They said Garrett, 35, shouldn’t have an opportunity to walk free while he faces two counts each of aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide in the deaths of Garcia, 25, and Torres, 27. They said Garrett received special treatment because he is a police officer.

“It’s not right that two lives were taken,” said Torres’ mother, Asuncion Torres. “Two lives are gone. And he has gotten, like, a slap on the wrist because he’s a police officer.”

Her son was a freshman at DePaul University. Garcia was set to graduate in May from Malcolm X College and planned to go to the University of Illinois Chicago with hopes of becoming a doctor or nurse.

“My son is not coming back, to my place to be with me,” said his mother, Cecilia Garcia. “He’s never coming back. Because of” Garrett.

Garrett did not appear in bond court Sunday. He was being held at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with a fractured left hip. After the crash it was determined his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Rusch said Garrett used the North Avenue off-ramp at about 4 a.m. Friday to enter Lake Shore Drive, going northbound in the southbound lanes. Joaquin Garcia and Fabian Torres were traveling southbound in the lane closest to the center median.

Garrett made it about a mile before crashing into Garcia and Torres at about 3000 North Lake Shore Drive. Police said he was going at least 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. Rusch said Garrett’s Chevrolet Trailblazer hit the Jeep carrying Garcia and Torres head-on.

The Jeep went airborne, hitting a third vehicle on the hood before flipping on its side and coming to a rest at the far right guardrail. Garcia and Torres were pronounced dead at the scene, Rusch said. The driver of the third vehicle was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Garrett was extracted from the driver’s seat of his vehicle and admitted he had been drinking because it was his birthday, Rusch said. He was taken to the hospital and refused a DUI kit. His blood was drawn, and Rusch said his blood alcohol content was 0.184.

If Garrett makes bail, he would be on electronic monitoring ordered by the judge. The judge said he intended to prevent Garrett from driving while the case is pending.

Richard Blass, Garrett’s attorney, said his client, who lives in Zion, has been a North Chicago police officer since August 2008. Garrett has a 2-year-old daughter and also has worked for Pepsi and as a supervisor for OfficeMax, Blass said.

He is on leave from the North Chicago Police Department and was off-duty at the time of the crash.

Meanwhile, the families of Garcia and Torres are left to plan their sons’ funerals. Julian Garcia, Joaquin Garcia’s uncle, left the courtroom Sunday declaring, “They gave a killer bond.”

“He should be held in jail with the other killers,” Julian Garcia said. “Like everybody else.”

He said the family buried Joaquin Garcia’s father in October. And Joaquin Garcia’s younger sister said their mother’s birthday is Wednesday — the day she plans to bury her son.

A candlelight vigil for the men is planned at 7 p.m. Monday at 26th and Pulaski.

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