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Cab driver who killed U. of C. student held on $200,000 bail

Cabdriver John A. Kesse Chicago who's charged with reckless homicide was ordered held lieu $200000 bail Tuesday for crash which

Cabdriver John A. Kesse, of Chicago, who's charged with reckless homicide, was ordered held in lieu of $200,000 bail Tuesday for a crash in which University of Chicago graduate student. Eric Kerestes was killed on Aug. 14. | Chicago Police Photo

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Updated: October 14, 2012 1:36PM

A veteran cabdriver described by friends as an upstanding citizen and frequent churchgoer was ordered held in lieu of $200,000 bail Tuesday for a deadly crash that claimed the life of a University of Chicago graduate student.

John A. Kesse was tested right after he hit Eric Kerestes with a taxi that was not his usual work vehicle on the morning of Aug. 14, and the results indicated he had no drugs or alcohol in his system, his attorney Bruce Rafalson said.

“It was a tragic accident,” said Rafalson, asking Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. to place the cab under protective order so it can be examined at a future date.

Rafalson would not elaborate on what he thinks took place the morning of the accident, but he maintained that his client was not impaired or in a car he was familiar with.

But prosecutors said Kesse’s erratic driving led to Kerestes’ death and serious injuries to his 28-year-old passenger, who had flagged Kesse at Milwaukee and Division to go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Kesse, 60, drove off at a high rate of speed and ran several red lights, weaved in and out of traffic and drove into oncoming traffic to pass cars in front of him, assistant state’s attorney Sylvie Manaster said.

As he approached Milwaukee and Ogden, Kesse allegedly swerved into oncoming traffic, jumped the curb at the entrance to the CTA Blue Line stop and struck two light poles.

Kesse proceeded through the intersection of Milwaukee and Ogden and hit a bus stop bench, where Kerestes was sitting, a CVS sign and another light pole before coming to a stop in the bushes outside the CVS, authorities said. Kerestes, 30, was thrown more than 200 feet, Manaster said.

Kesse, of the 4500 block of North Clarendon, is facing reckless homicide charges.

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