Driver In Fatal Collision Being Treated Too Leniently, Victims’ Loved Ones Say

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.

wbbm 1129 fatal ax Driver In Fatal Collision Being Treated Too Leniently, Victims Loved Ones Say

Police say the driver of this car ignored a stop light and crashed into another vehicle, killing two occupants. (CBS)

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.

  • M, H and N

    We are truly saddened for the families and the Gale Street family as well.
    Although we did not know each of them personally, both were truly loved by patrons of the Gale Street Inn.

    We will miss both of them.
    M, H & N J,

  • Debbie

    Why is this man not being charged with murder? Debbie was the sweetest person you could know. I’m sorry I did not know her co-worker, but I’m sure he was just as nice as Debbie. Debbie and her co-worker will be truly missed. How can a person be so reckless and not care about anybody else. Doesn’t he realize that he has hurt many people for life? I just hope that this man gets charged. I know it won’t bring them back, but justice needs to be served.!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steven Mark Tobin

    Felony vehicular manslaughter charges are in order. Just because he was not under the influence does not excuse his reckless behavior.
    I hope he gets life in jail, but probably will get no more than bout 7 years total.
    All the justice system cares about is “intent.” Since that is so hard to prove, if you’re sober, you get off basically scott-free.
    Sad story indeed.

  • Margie

    We all hope that this sucker thief and irrisponsible all that way gets 30 years.
    and we all hope that if the Judge has consious and moral send this animal to 30 years no parole . because if he hurt anyone one from my family I’ll make sure I’ll take of that matter

  • L

    For those of you who want justice I encourage you to visit a Cook County court for a day. Pick a local one near your house or work. Western/Belmont, Grand/Central, Kedzie/Harrison, 555 W. Harrison, 50 W. Washington, or branch 2 of traffic court at 26/Cal. There you will see plenty of continuances or out right favorable decisions for the criminals.

    It must be hard to be a judge these days in Cook County when your appointed by the criminal defense bar. Let’s not kid ourselves. To many favorable decisions for police and your reassigned to a less favorable court. What’s that, the victim is in court grant a continuance. Maybe the victim will get tired or just won’t be able to make it back to court next time. Don’t believe in handing down guilty verdicts for suspended or revoked driver license cases not a problem. Just hand down a motion of no probable cause. Provided of course there’s no media attention attached to the case. Besides, you don’t really believe in guilty verdicts for that nonsense. What’s that the criminal had how much cocaine on him. Well, he’s habitual and has no job, a finding of no probable cause. The defendant held someone up? Ok, how about we send him home on house arrest. Ah, now reassigned to a better court (or better position) to hear real criminal cases.

    I can’t begin to express my sorrow for the families of the victims’. It’s a senseless loss that’s impact will be felt forever by those who loved them.

    As for those of you who do decide to go to court I’m sorry I won’t see you there. I will not be able to attend because I too have lost a brother this week to a senseless crime.



    The victims families should be grateful the driver of the other vehicle was not a COP. There are many instances where cops have killed people…while driving intoxicated…and absolutely nothing happened to them. The recent incident with the drunk cop on the Dan Ryan…the car he slammed into exploded into flames….the 2 people in the car burnt to death….and he tried to walk away from the scene… cover the intoxication level, the Chicago PD gave him a blood test…nearly 8 hours later.

  • Roberta Waker

    Most judges are out to lunch and won’t penalize the criminals to fit the crime. In this case the charges should be MURDER because he wasn’t drunk or high on drugs and because he knowingly stole the vehicle and ran the red light. He should be charged with MURDER. It’s time to vote ALL the judges out and start fresh at the next election, UNLESS the judge has a fair record and supports the VICTIMS. Also, Jesse White needs to have more influence over crimes commited with vehicles – the State is way too lenient with drivers that have revoked or suspensed licenses, no insurance, and cause injuries. Time for a crack down.

  • Lora

    Reckless homicide charges should be filed.
    Hey Roberta, that’s what Illinois gets for electing someone whose only experience was managing a group of tumbling black kids (AKA Jesse White) – next to IDOT, Illinois SOS is Illinois’ worst managed departments with absolutely ZERO oversight.

    • Roberta Waker

      Excuuuuse me. Illinois has some of the toughest driving laws in the country. Unfortunately, they are not always enforced like they should be to get reckless drivers off the road. Jesse White has been doing a very good job and obviously the voters feel the same way because he was re-elected by a good majority. He helps kids in the Challenge Program he supports too, or don’t you know about how much good he has done? For your info, there are white kids in this program as well as blacks and hispanics, so he is NOT a racist as you are implying. It’s the POLICE that prefer charges in conjunction with the States Attorney, then the Judge has to make sure the jury hears ALL the facts to render an informed decision. Judges withhold information many times so the jury lets these criminals off the hook. Been there, done that.

  • Laura

    Im with u Lor!!!!!!!!!!!!!…This is crazyy he steals a car and kills two ppl and it should be involuntarny manslaughter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mark Gorogianis-Fortune Fish Co

    It was a pleasure to know and work with Javier for the past 20 years. He was honest, hard working, and genuine. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and co-workers.

  • Mark Gorogianis-Fortune Fish Co

    It was a honor to work with and know Javier for the last 20 years. We had many of laughs over the years. Javier was hardworking, honest, and genuine. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and co-workers at the Gale Street.

  • Mark Guon

    Our hearts are sadend and our prayers extended to the Gale Street Family and the families and friends of both Chef and Debbie. They will be missed and it has been an honor working with them.

    Peace be with them.

  • Tammy Newman (ex-inlaw)

    I hope he gets charged with felony vehicular manslaughter, 30 years.
    Why should he roam the streets free, steal another car, take another life.
    When will the justice system learn.
    My heartfelt sympathies to your family

  • Kathy Mena

    I am completely disgusted at this. I have been awaiting to see what the lates was on this degenerate (sorry) and am so siappointed to read this. I actually wondered how he was being treated at the hospital. I wondered how he feels realizing that he ended the lives of two outstanding and hardworking people. It is completely senseless. There has to be some justice for these two deeply hurt families. I am a patron of Gale Street Inn and I know how deeply affected everyone there is over this tragedy.

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