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Driver Who Fatally Struck Woman on Southwest Side Allegedly Fled at 80 mph

1:33 PM CDT on May 5, 2016

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Guadalupe Chavez. Photo: GoFundMe

Reckless homicide and DUI charges have been filed against a driver who allegedly killed a woman and injured a man last weekend in the Vittum Park neighborhood near Midway Airport.

At a hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors said that about 10:45 p.m. Saturday, Cicero resident Guadalupe Chavez, 42, and a 39-year-old man had parked on the south side of Archer Avenue near Lavergne Avenue, about three blocks north of the airport, the Chicago Tribune reported. As they walked north across the four-lane street, they stopped in the middle of the road to wait for a westbound bus to pass. However, the bus driver slowed down to let them cross.

Brazel had been following the bus in the same lane in his red Jeep Patriot, driving at least 45 mph in the 30 mph zone, prosecutors said. When the bus slowed down, he attempted to pass on the right, hitting the two pedestrians as they proceeded across the street. The male victim was struck in the leg, while Chavez was thrown into the air.

According to prosecutors, witnesses said Brazel did not hit his brakes during the crash and drove away at a high speed. A witness called police with the vehicle’s description and plate number and then followed Brazel through side streets and alleys as the fleeing man drove at up to 80 mph in an apparent effort to evade the witness.

The witness eventually located the Jeep parked near 59th Street and Neenah Avenue with front-end damage and a missing mirror, which was left at the crash site, according to prosecutors. Police apprehended Brazel as he was walking near 58th Street and Rutherford Avenue.

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The intersection of Archer and Lavergne. Image: Google Street View

Brazel told police he had the green light when he struck the victims, and that he fled because he “freaked” after the crash, prosecutors said. Almost four hours later, he took a Breathalyzer test which showed him to have a blood alcohol content of 0.056, below the legal limit of 0.08.

At the hearing, Brazel’s lawyer said his client passed a field sobriety test and noted that officers original did not charge him with a DUI but only a hit-and-run, the Tribune reported. Prosecutors approved the other felony charges of Reckless Homicide and aggravated DUI causing [a crash] later, the attorney said.

Judge Laura Sullivan ordered Brazel to be held in Lieu of $50,000 bail.

The lawyer said Brazel was “completely destroyed” by the incident. However, its hard to take the defendant’s claim of remorse seriously when his actions following the collision could have easily resulted in a second fatal crash.

DNAinfo reported that that Chavez, a nurse, was raising a 14-year-old daughter and had recently become a grandmother. On a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for funeral expenses, her family wrote that Chavez was an "an excellent mother, full of positive energy, and [she] always wanted to see people with a smile." They added that she "dodged obstacles day by day and still stayed strong and shined like a sun."

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 11 (six were hit-and-run crashes)

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