Reporting Bob Roberts
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The mother and family members of the two children killed Saturday night in a high-speed crash on the Southwest Side returned to the scene of the accident for three hours Wednesday night – in search of the donations needed to bury them.
For three hours, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Wednesday, they solicited donations next to the makeshift memorial on Western Avenue, just south of 45th Street.
People pulled into a driveway to leave their donations. Some also added to the memorial, which consists of flowers, dolls, toy trucks, balloons, more than 70 votive candles and a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The children’s mother, Bernice Cabrera, was two hours late because she was at the hospital where her boyfriend was undergoing surgery on his dislocated jaw. The force of the accident pushed some of his teeth into his gums and he also has a fractured spine.
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Cabrera herself requires help from others, because of two broken collarbones. Yet she stood next to the makeshift memorial, telling those who stopped that she was grateful for their help, whether they left 50 cents or a $20 bill.
She estimates the funeral costs at a minimum of $6,000, yet she needs to find the money to pay everyday bills because neither she nor her boyfriend will be in a position to work. He was unemployed at the time of the accident, and she had been working for a catering business for less than a month.
While she said she has been assured that she will be able to return to her job, she said no one plans to bury children ages 5 years and 10 months.
Eric and Julissa Ochoa died within minutes of the accident, which left four others injured. The driver of the SUV that hit their car, Joey Chavez, was ordered held Tuesday on $550,000 bond. That angers both Carbrera and her cousin, Claudia Cabrera.
“Put yourself in my shoes,” the mother said. “What if your kids died and what if he paid the bond. Then he could leave. To me, that’s not fair. To me, if I was the judge, I’d do the maximum – no bond.”
Claudia Cabrera said she was “at a loss for words” when bond was set. Not now.
“To be honest, I totally disagree with (setting bond),” said Claudia Cabrera. “I honestly think this guy should have had no bail, because of his background. I read about the felonies he has had in his history and I’m amazed he can still be put on bond. My family is scared that he might post bond and flee.”
The Cabreras are not sure if they will return to the accident site in search of additional donations. But a Cabrera Family Trust Fund has been set up at BMO Harris Bank, and donations can be taken at any Harris branch.