Family: Woman Killed On Eisenhower Shouldn’t Have Been Left Alone

UPDATED 12/16/11 11:07 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The family of a woman killed on the Eisenhower Expressway shortly after her release on drunken driving charges says she should never have been left alone.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Diana Paz, 25, was struck and killed by a car as she walked onto the expressway in the wee hours Sept. 2.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Just minutes earlier, Illinois State Police had dropped her off at a nearby gas station. She had bonded out after being arrested for drunken driving as she drove home from her own birthday party, and state police gave her a ride to the west suburban gas station after she told them had no family or means of getting home.

Now, Paz’s family says she was still drunk at the time she was dropped off, and never should have been left alone. Their attorney, Timothy Cavanagh, on Tuesday morning said the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office found that Paz’s blood alcohol level was at least twice the legal limit.

“She was twice the legal limit or beyond, depending on which test, and I think what it tells us is the State Police I-bonded a young girl out who was 25 years old, in the dead of night, with no cell phone, no wallet, no purse, no money, no way to contact family, and dropped her off at a gas station next to the highway, which I don’t think is responsible,” Cavanaugh said.

The information about Paz’s blood alcohol level is contrary to what state police told the media immediately after the deadly accident, Cavanaugh said.

Paz’s family members also say they are having a hard time getting information from state police. Cavanagh, who is suing state police on the family’s behalf says he filed an emergency motion to get all the information about the events that led to Paz’s death — including all medical records and video at the BP gas station where Paz was dropped off.

But Cavanagh claims despite a judge’s order, state police have not complied.

Paz was pulled over at 3:23 a.m. on Sept. 2 for driving the wrong direction on the Eisenhower. She failed a field sobriety test and refused a breathalyzer.

Paz was arrested and processed at the police station in Westchester. She was released after signing an I-bond at 5:40 a.m. the same day.

Paz asked police to take her to the nearby BP gas station. Moments later, she was walking in a marked median area on the Eisenhower Expressway just east of Westchester Boulevard. That was when she was hit by a truck driver and killed.

Paz had hoped to finish school and pursue a career in criminal justice, her sister said. She left behind a 5-year-old son, Erik, her family says.

Diana Paz’s sister, Maria Paz, says her parents are taking care of Erik now.

“He talks about her all the time, and he misses her so much,” Maria Paz said.

State Police said in September that Paz was alert and coherent at the time of her release. State police are not required to transport motorists, but as a courtesy, officers will transport stranded motorists within a reasonable distance. There’s no policy requiring Illinois state police to do this.

On Friday, state police said they were in the middle of investigating and could not comment on the probe.

But state police spokeswoman Monique Bond says Paz police cannot hold people against their will if the I-bond themselves out.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • fed up

    Many years ago the police could lock someone for what they called safekeeping. If someone was drunk or impaired the police would lock them up for the night and the court would release them the following morning. Sounds like this would have solved the problem and prevented a tragedy. However the ACLJEW and other dogooders cried and whined that it was against the law to protect misfits from danger and death by illegally incarcerating them. So the system was ended. Now the same group, the trial lawyers have a new revenue stream by sueing for not doing what they ended. And people wonder why the USA is in decline.

    • LOTD

      BRAVO !!!!!!! ACLJEW = Classic !!!!!! LOL !!!!!

  • Shame Shame !

    Nope, sorry, no cash payout for you! These people should feel ashamed for trying to cash in on the foolish actions of their family member. Police could have released her from the police station, instead they gave her a ride to a gas station. That was awfully nice of them, considering they had no obligation to do so. Just because a grown adult is buzzed, they and they soley are responsible for their own actions. Police have absolutely no liability here. This family should mourn for their loved one and stop blaming the police for the death. No Jackpot Justice For You!!!!!!

    • Roberta Waker

      Amen. Anyone that gives her “family” a dime is crazy. They are as responsible as she was for letting her get drunk, allowing her to drive, then they didn’t see that she got home safely. Put the blame on the “family”, not the police.

      • Veronica Paz-Arias

        please be well informed before you comment, the family is not asking for 1 penny. all they want is answers. that’s it. they have had to come up with the funeral costs, they are left with the financial burden of raising Diana’s child. They are just a family who is in need of answers and closure. if this had been your family member, you would want the same. NO MONEY, JUST ANSWERS.

      • Jim Hamilton


        Suing for answeres? Read the article
        Cavanagh, who is suing state police on the family’s behalf

      • Roberta Waker

        @Veronica. If it had been my family member, I would have stayed with them to see they got home safely. She was 25 years old with a child and should have thought about him before she went out and got so drunk. I have no sympathy for drunks because they kill and cripple people. I agree with Jim Hamilton, you are wrong – the family is suing the State Police so it’s all about the money NOT answers. If she had been held overnight for her own protection her family would probably sue for unlawful restraint or some other stupid reason. If a family member gets drunk, see that they get home safely or keep them by you overnight, then you won’t have to feel guilty.

  • Jenn

    so the family and friends who knowingly let her drive drunk upon leaving her birthday party aren’t to blame but the police who did their job and got her off the road and kindly then dropped her off at a gas station after she bonded out are to blame?!? Yeah, that makes sense!

    • the rapture

      so she didn’t call the ‘family’ or did the ‘family’ not answer the phone…oh please stop with the excuses – adults should never drink themselves stupid and try to drive…this comment to everyone in the world and not just you

    • Roberta Waker

      Right you are. Where was her “family” when she needed help or a ride home? She must have had company when she got drunk – where were her fellow partygoers? I’m sure she was allowed to make a phone call; checking into that might end this madness. She was drunk and responsible for her own death. The family shouldn’t get a dime. PERIOD.

      • Veronica Paz-Arias

        US, Her family were home sleeping. Unaware of what was transpiring. She was at a fellow co-workers house celebrating her birthday. I’m happy you are a perfect person with a perfect life.The family is not asking for any compensation FYI. not one Penny, only answers.

    • Jim Hamilton

      For that you shouldn’t sue the state police, are you saying the article is lying?

    • cynthia

      she wasn’t my family but she was my friend…. n i was there i was the one who told her to give me the keys,,i handed them over to the home qwner who said she was her cousin… lie yes ,bad judgement? YES of he so called FRIEND yes….. big time …. dont look at the rest of us as we didn’t care…. we gave her a surprise party she was so happy…. we did care… n we loved her …. one friend made a bad decision not the rest of us we left her safe ….. and we will never forget her…

    • Roberta Waker

      The homeowner that supplied the liquor and allowed her to drive with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol and the person that returned her keys are the ones you should be looking to for anwers. These are also the same people that are LEGALLY responsible for Diana’s death and should be sued for her funeral expenses and money to help raise her son. The State Police did nothing wrong – her “co-workers/friends” did. Our sympathy and prayers go out to the family for a tragedy that could have been avoided.

  • CFLC

    The family is using the Chicago Model in this law suit, (better know as the Daley model), when in doubt or when at fault, blame the police or a teacher.The lawyers love this model and use it a lot when suing. This model works better in Chicago and the State of Illinois than in other parts of the country. You see only in Chicago and the State of Illinois, the people are alowed to sue because of stupidity and ignorance. It’s easy to blame someone else, it’s always someone elses fault. This is the democratic way.

  • southside

    This is why lawyers have a bad name. Always going for the money grab.

    • Roberta Waker

      You keep saying the family isn’t asking for money; yet an attorney named Cavanaugh has been hired to sue the State Police. You are suing the wrong people – the State Police did nothing wrong. You should be suing the homeowner that allowed her to get so drunk (more than twice the legal limit hours later) and gave her car keys back to her. That person is responsible for Diana’s death. She was a beautiful young woman with a nice son, who no longer has a mother because of this person’s irresponsible act.

      • Mike

        It’s not the homeowner’s fault. Quit blaming others.

  • Toonces

    Where was everybody when she needed a lift?????

    • the rapture

      but she was arrested for drunken driving – not drunken walking – so she got keys to a car from someone – no more excuses – drunk drivers are all evil and shall pay for their sins

  • James

    I have a hard time believing that they’re not trying to get money. We’ll see what happens with that. Either way, the police are not to blame.

  • Jim Hamilton


    We understand your family has suffered a serious loss of a beautiful person but when the article reads that there is a lawyer suing the state police on the families behalf, we tax payers tend get rightfully concerned. What could you possibly be suing for, and why do you think that the police have done anything wrong? If you the family didn’t know she was going to party after work then did you call her to find out where she was and why she wasn’t home yet? Just asking but if you want any sympathy from the tax payers that read DUI, adult, and law suit it’s not going to happen, not that you as a family member shouldn’t care about your loss but the rest of us are thankful she didn’t hurt or kill any of us or our family members. She was 2 times the legal limit 2 hours and 13min after her arrest, Imagine what it was when she chose to drive a car in the wrong direction on a busy expressway? She endangered a lot of people and a lot of people are thankful that she is the only dead one here. The family in a way should be thankful as well!!!!! Stop the law suit it’s wrong to blame the people who are out here risking their life everyday for her bad choices. She put the alcohol into her system at that point she made a choice, she took a risk and she lost, her kids lost, you the family lost but not by the hand of the police it was her choices. WHY SHOULD WE TAX PAYERS HAVE TO PAY? and WHY BLAME A POLICE OFFICER WHO PROBABLY FEELS PRETTY ROTTEN SHE DIED!!!!!!!!!

  • Roberta Waker

    A few years ago my aunt, uncle, 2 and 5 year old cousins were killed by a drunk driver who crossed over the center median and hit them head on even after my uncle pulled off the road onto the emergency parking area. The 2 year old was cut in half and died in the arms of the responding police officer who arrived at the scene minutes after the accident. My 10 year old cousin is paralyzed as a result of this accident as well. So, there is a reason I hate drunk drivers. By the way, if you check Websters, a “troll” is defined as a cave dwelling giant and that definitely doesn’t describe me. If you are going to call someone a name, maybe you should check it out first. I DO sympathize with the loss of this beautiful woman who will never see her son grow up and a son who will never know his mother because someone was irresponsible enough to return car keys that were taken away to avoid such a tragedy. THAT is the person the family should sue for funeral expenses and financial assistance to raise Diana’s son; not the State Police. RIP Diana.

  • Roberta Waker

    I think most people commenting don’t feel the police did anything wrong since Diana was alert enough to bond herself out of jail and ask for a ride to a certain gas station. I still believe the family should sue the homeowner that allowed her to get so drunk and gave her car keys back to her. She would still be alive if her car keys hadn’t been returned to her. Lawyers don’t work for free so that’s why most people feel it’s all about the money.

  • Jim Hamilton

    Lets not forget we are talking about a 25 year old consensual adult person, she didn’t die as a result of driving and having an accident maybe killing others. The officer did his part. One thing that does stand out about what I read is,

    she was walking in a marked median area on the Eisenhower Expressway just east of Westchester Boulevard. That was when she was hit by a truck driver and killed.

    So one may ask why was the truck driving in the median but this is grasping at straws and still don’t excuse her actions for being there as a pedestrian.

  • Jim Hamilton

    Lets not forget we are talking about a 25 year old, adult person, she didn’t die as a result of driving and having an accident maybe killing others. The officer did his part. One thing that does stand out about what I read is,

    “she was walking in a marked median area on the Eisenhower Expressway just east of Westchester Boulevard. That was when she was hit by a truck driver and killed.”

    So one may ask why was the truck driving in the median but this still don’t excuse her actions for being there as a pedestrian.

  • Pamela

    Actually, in Illinois — due to our “dram shop” law — the person who serves the liquor CAN be held liable for any injury to the drinker, and for any damage the drinker does to others. But regardless of what state: if you drink, take a cab home, or ask someone for a ride. If your BAC is at twice the legal limit, you are impaired, and should have the good sense to know that. It is NOT the fault of the police, or of the truck driver who hit her when she was WALKING on the expressway. Thank God she didn’t kill anyone when she was driving THE WRONG WAY on the expressway, a few hours earlier!!

  • Abe Froman

    Drunk, unmarried Mexican, gets killed due to own stupidity. Thank you Darwin.

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