CHICAGO (CBS) — A young man blows through a Chicago stoplight and plows into two friends driving home from work. They’re killed, but the driver of the car that hit them is facing only misdemeanor charges.
This week, those who knew and loved those two victims are demanding more serious charges. They want the justice system to get tough, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.
Both of the victims who died in the crash late Friday worked together at a well known northwest side restaurant, The Gale Street Inn. Javier Cisneros, a chef, had worked there for two decades; the other, waitress Debbie Ceglarek, had been on the staff for 25 years.
Restaurant owner George Karzas says Ceglarek, the 51-year-old mother of two, was the “sweetest girl in the world” and worked half of her life for him. Cisneros, also 51, was the father of three and a grandfather.
“You never saw a man so proud when he got his citizenship,” Karzas said. “And he talked to the other staff members that they, too, can live the dream here.”
On Friday, Javier asked Debbie for a ride home. Their lives ended in the 3900 block of West Addison. The driver of a Honda Accord ran through a red light and smashed into the side of their car.
“I was told by the police that the car was stolen,” Karzas said. “It was stolen an hour earlier. He stole the car, he ran the red light, and he T-boned them.”
Officially, the Chicago police will only say the driver, who was seriously injured and is still at Illinois Masonic Hospital, has been charged only with five misdemeanors: reckless driving, driving without a license and without insurance, disobeying a red light and leaving the scene of an accident.
“To destroy people’s lives and then to act as if it’s nothing, it’s just unheard of, it’s not human,” Karen Hernandez, Ceglarek’s sister, said at her sibling’s wake Monday.
Said Karzas: “How this guy gets off with just a slap on the wrist is mind-blowing.”
Chicago police are leaving open the possibility that more charges may be filed against the driver. As one officer put it, “He’s not going anywhere. He’s in the hospital.”
The driver has not been identified because he has been cited only for misdemeanors. The Gale Street Inn will be closed Tuesday. There will be a reception for the families, friends and coworkers of the two victims.