Weather Updates

16-year-old dies in Lake County drag race

Jeremy A. Betancourt | phofrom Gurnee police

Jeremy A. Betancourt | photo from Gurnee police

storyidforme: 51260948
tmspicid: 19061887
fileheaderid: 8621866

Updated: June 25, 2013 1:48PM

A teenage drag race turned tragic Monday night when one of the cars went airborne and rolled over, leaving a north suburban girl dead, three other people injured and both drivers in jail facing felony charges.

Cynthia N. Perez, 16, of Antioch, was a rear-seat passenger in the vehicle that was speeding before a crash on Route 120 in Gurnee, according to Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd.

The accident happened about 8:20 p.m. just east of Hunt Club Road, according to a statement from Gurnee police.

Police said the black 2004 Honda Civic was eastbound on Route 120, racing a red 2000 Ford Focus when the driver of the Honda lost control. The car is believed to have gone airborne, then rolled over in the median ditch between the east- and westbound lanes before coming to rest in the westbound lanes.

The Honda had four occupants, including Perez, who was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, according to Rudd.

A 20-year-old man was also ejected from the vehicle and taken to Condell Hospital in Libertyville in serious condition, according to the coroner. A 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man were also taken to Condell with non-life-threatening injuries.

Jeremy A. Betancourt, 17, of the 41000 block of North Circle Drive in Antioch, the driver of the Honda, was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated street racing, both felonies, according to police. He was also cited for driving without a valid driver’s license and driving an uninsured vehicle.

The driver of the Ford, Michael R. Dawson, 19, of the 400 block of Filweber Court in Antioch, was charged with aggravated street racing and cited for operating a vehicle with expired registration.

Betancourt and Dawson appeared in Lake County Court on Tuesday morning, where both were ordered held at the Lake County Jail on $250,000 bonds, according to police.

An autopsy on Perez was scheduled for Tuesday, Rudd said.

The accident remains under investigation and police ask anyone with information to call (847) 599-7000.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.