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“Good Son” Fatally Struck After Car’s Passenger Grabs Steering Wheel

1:00 PM CST on December 29, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.17.22 PM
The crash site, on the 5300 block of S. Western Avenue. Image: Google Streetview

A Gage Park man was struck and killed earlier this month after a passenger in a car punched the driver and yanked on the steering wheel, police said.

Columbia College student and Redbox employee Eddie Fuentes, 24, was serving as a designated driver after a holiday party two weekends ago, ABC reported. In the early morning of Sunday, December 21, Fuentes dropped off his last passenger and stopped for a snack at a hot dog stand on the 5300 block of South Western, according to ABC. He was still wearing a Santa Claus outfit from the party, ABC reported.

Around 3:10 a.m., Kenya Thomas, 29, was driving southbound on Western in a Chevrolet Impala with three passengers, police said. Thomas' husband Jason Rayford, 30, began arguing with the two other passengers, according to prosecutors.

After Thomas intervened, Rayford punched her and pulled the steering wheel to the right, prosecutors said. This caused the car to crash into Fuentes, who was standing next to his vehicle, according to prosecutors. Fuentes was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead around 8 a.m. from a traumatic brain injury, the Cook County medical examiner's office said.

Rayford, of the 11300 block of South Stewart, was charged with reckless homicide and misdemeanor battery, according to police. At a hearing the following Tuesday, prosecutors said Rayford fled the crash scene on foot and was apprehended a few blocks away. The judge set bail at $100,000. Thomas was also charged with a misdemeanor DUI and driving without a license, according to police.

"The only thing I ask is justice for my son," Fuentes’ mother Laticia Monarrez told ABC. "Because if anyone knows my Eddie, he was a good son.”

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 25 (6 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 8 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)

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