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Man Charged With Fatally Striking Teen During Drag Race

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Mario Garcia (Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office)

Mario Garcia (Credit: Lake County Sheriff’s Office)

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NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (STMW) — Police have made an arrest in the drag racing-related death of a 17-year-old north suburban boy.

According to officials, the street race ended in tragedy Friday night when Jose Luke Pimentel of Waukegan was struck by a car involved in a drag race.

On Monday, police arrested Mario Garcia, 18, of Waukegan, and charged him with reckless homicide, aggravated street racing and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Garcia is being held on $200,000 bond at the Lake County Jail.

Pimentel was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, between Routes 41 and 43 in North Chicago.

“He was out in the middle of the roadway,” Deputy Chief Lake County Coroner Orlando Tortillo said Monday.

He said that stretch of road is known as a place for drag racing and Pimentel apparently misjudged the speed of a vehicle and was struck while crossing the roadway near Route 43.

Friends say the two knew each other.

According to witnesses, Pimentel and another friend were on their way to the bowling alley at Fountain Square around 8:30 p.m. when he was struck. Garcia fled after striking Pimentel, witnesses said.

Waukegan Police Cmdr. Gabe Guzman said the two racing vehicles were headed west on King Drive while Pimentel and a friend were walking in the same direction on the north side of the roadway. Pimentel then stepped onto the roadway, Guzman said.

“The winner of the race was able to avoid him, but the loser in the race apparently didn’t see him,” he said.

Preliminary tests showed no drugs or alcohol were involved. Guzman said a check of calls for reckless driving on that stretch of roadway turned up nothing. The street is in an industrial and commercial area that is pretty quiet in the evening.

Pimentel was a sophomore at WHS’s Washington Street campus, which is currently on spring break. The school crisis team has reached out to Pimentel’s family and friends. More is planned when students return to school next week, according to Nicholas Alajakis, spokesman for Waukegan Unit School District 60.

Dozens of friends visited a roadside memorial on Monday, including Beatriz Bueno.

“He had a real good sense of humor,” Bueno said.

Pimentel’s R.I.P. Facebook page had more than 2,700 “likes” as of Monday morning.

According to the Facebook page dedicated to him, the funeral for Pimentel will be held in Mexico and the family is trying to raise money for the services.

A fund-raising dance will be conducted Friday at San Luis restaurant at 50 S. Green Bay Rd., Waukegan, and memorial t-shirts are for sale. His wake is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Memorial Chapel at 1521 Washington St. in Waukegan.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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