Charges in Highland Park girl’s death could be upgraded, authorities say
By Beth Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org September 6, 2012 6:28PM
Updated: November 6, 2012 2:04AM
HIGHLAND PARK — While the mayor of Highland Park has expressed frustration with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office’s handling of the fatal crash that caused the death of a 5-year-old girl, authorities continue to investigate the accident, David Schwarz, the city’s deputy police chief, said Thursday.
Carly Rousso, 18, of the 2300 block of Woodpath Lane, Highland Park, was cited for driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound in connection with the Labor Day crash that killed kindergartner Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, police said.
Rousso is accused of driving a late-model Lexus coupe into a family on a sidewalk in the 700 block of Central Avenue, striking the kindergartner, her mother and her two brothers. Rousso is due in Lake County Circuit Court for arraignment Sept. 21 on the DUI charge.
The girl’s mother, Modesto Sacramento-Jiminez, remained in fair condition Wednesday at Highland Park Hospital. Two younger brothers, 4 and 2, were treated at the hospital and released.
Mayor Nancy Rotering criticized the State’s Attorney’s Office in a letter Wednesday — two days after the fatal accident — for “releasing the driver with no restrictions.” In the letter, Rotering said she and the City Council “are frustrated in the delayed manner in which this case is being handled.”
State’s Attorney Michael Waller said he was “puzzled” by the mayor’s complaint.
“This investigation by police is still ongoing. We have not been asked to approve more serious charges,” Waller said Thursday.
Waller said he was not being critical of Highland Park police, but that his office is waiting for the police investigation to be finished before approving charges. Waller pointed out that investigations take time and police investigations can take several weeks.
As it stands, Rousso is charged with a misdemeanor DUI, not a felony. The charges could be upgraded to aggravated DUI or reckless homicide depending on the toxicology results and the investigation that is underway, Schwarz said.
“We have a rush into Illinois State Police Crime Lab to speed up the results,” he added, noting it can take up to three months to get toxicology results. “We’re hoping for another week and a half if we’re lucky. That could be unrealistic.”
The intoxicating compound alleged to have been in Rousso’s system during the incident could mean drugs or other intoxicants to alter the mind, Schwarz said, adding the results of toxicology tests will clear that up.
Highland Park police also have to evaluate and analyze physical evidence and witness testimony, as well as obtain background on Rousso, Schwarz said. Those are elements of the investigation that is under way.
Schwarz said the State’s Attorney’s Office recommended waiting until toxicology results were available before moving forward on whether or not to upgrade or add charges.
“It’s a tragedy and we’re working with the State’s Attorney’s Office to come up with appropriate charges as evidence dictates in this matter,” Schwarz said.
Rousso has had no traffic arrests, according to Lake County court records, however she was cited with an ordinance violation in Deerfield for possession of marijuana on Jan. 11, 2010.
Rousso was sentenced to six months of supervision and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service for that ordinance violation, according to court records. The cannabis case was terminated in Aug. 5, 2010.
Meanwhile, well-wishers have rallied around the Santos-Sacramento family.
In a span of 27 hours, a memorial fund set up Tuesday afternoon by parents at Indian Trail School had raised more than $37,000. A separate fund has been established through the Highland Park Community Foundation to provide economic support to the family.
Karen Berkowitz contributed to this report