Teen Charged With Reckless Homicide, DUI After Killing Construction Worker

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The crash location from the driver’s perspective.

Erick A. Lopez, 19, has been charged with reckless homicide and other felonies after he crashed his car into José Tafoya, 58, early Saturday morning on a Brighton Park construction work zone.

Lopez, of the 3700 block of West 83rd Place, attended a party on Saturday night, where he was involved in a fight, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Novy. While driving two passengers home, he was speeding northbound and weaving in and out of construction barriers, Novy said. At about 4:15 a.m. Lopez crashed his car into a paving machine on the 4900 block of south Western, which Tafoya was working behind, according to Novy.

The impact threw the construction worker several feet, and he landed on the sidewalk, Novy said. Tafoya, a Merrillville, Indiana, resident, was pronounced dead on the scene at 5:45 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Lopez and a female passenger were transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, while the other passenger was taken to Stroger Hospital. The passengers were both injured, one with facial injuries and the other with head and spinal injuries, Novy said. Other members of Tafoya’s crew were treated at the site for minor injuries, according to court records.

A blood test found Lopez had a blood alcohol content of .195, more than twice the legal limit, according to Novy. He was charged with reckless homicide in a construction zone, aggravated DUI causing death, and aggravated DUI causing injury, all felonies. He was also charged with misdemeanor DUI, failure to carry or display a driver’s license, and having no car insurance, according to court records. At a hearing on Sunday, Lopez was ordered held without bail.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 16 (5 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 1 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)