Girl’s death stuns community
BY KAREN BERKOWITZ | firstname.lastname@example.org September 5, 2012 9:17PM
5-year-old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento was killed when a car jumped the curb and hit her, her mother and her two young brothers Monday afternoon in north suburban Highland Park. | Courtesy NBC5
Updated: September 5, 2012 9:54PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Highland Park police are waiting to complete their investigation into the traffic death Monday of 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento before presenting the case to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office for possible charges against the 18-year-old driver.
The victim, who had just started kindergarten at Indian Trail School in Highland Park, died of multiple injuries, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. The office has ruled the death accidental. The accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. Monday on the 700 block of Central Avenue, close to downtown Highland Park.
A Lexus coupe driven by an unnamed female driver was traveling eastbound on Central Avenue when it crossed the westbound lanes, left the roadway and struck four pedestrians who were walking westbound on the sidewalk on the north side of the street. The Lexus hit the 5-year-old along with her mother, 25-year-old Modesto Sacramento-Jiminez, and younger brothers, Daniel, 4, and Juan Carlitos, 2.
The girl was taken to Evanston Hospital, where she succombed to her injuries about 5 p.m. The other family members were taken to Highland Park Hospital.
No charges have been filed against the driver at this time pending the results of the investigation and analysis of evidence by the state crime lab, according to a statement that Highland Park Police released late Tuesday afternoon.
Police are continuing to process the vehicle for evidence and are working to determine whether the driver was impaired at the time of the accident.
The Rev. Thomas Balbonieri of St. James Church in Highwood was summoned to meet with grieving family members at the hospital.
“This is really going to be such a tremendous loss for them,” said Balbonieri, whose Catholic church serves Highwood, Highland Park and Fort Sheridan. “Their faith needs to be strong at this time. I know they have a lot of friends and family members present with them. They were just kind of trying to deal with it as best they can.”
Balbonieri told the family “we are here for them” if they want to hold a funeral mass at St. James. As of Tuesday, no arrangements had been made.
A memorial fund has been established for the Santos Sacramento family at http://indiegogo.com/indiantrailmemorialfund.
“Jaclyn was smart and loving and brought joy to all those around her,” noted Jessica Millen, a co-president of the Indian Trail Parent-Teacher Organization, who is helping to organize the effort.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering also has asked the Emergency Relief Task Force to convene Tuesday to consider helping the victim’s family pay for medical and bereavement expenses.
The accident investigation is being conducted by the Highland Park Police Accident Investigation Team and the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team, in collaboration with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office.
The girl’s father, Tomas Santos de Jesus, told the Chicago Sun-Times he was at work when his wife and their three young children were hit not far from home on the 900 block of Deerfield Road in Highland Park, where they have lived for the past eight years.
“I want to explain the law to the person who hit them,” said de Jesus, speaking in Spanish between sobs.
Said Rotering after the tragedy, “Our hearts go out to everyone involved. This accident is a parent’s worst nightmare and has created a devastating loss.”