Hundreds Walk to Mourn 5-Year-Old Car Crash Victim
Over 600 people joined a procession from Highwood to Highland Park in memory of Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, 5, who died on Monday when an 18-year-old from Highland Park drove her car onto the sidewalk, hitting Jaclyn, her mother and her two brothers.
When Jasmen Colon decided to do something to honor the memory of Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, the 5-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking with her family on Central Avenue on Monday, she had a modest goal.
"I wanted to get 10 people going to [the Santos-Sacramentos'] house and sending them flowers," Colon told Patch on Thursday.
Instead, she worked with her friend Tatiana Alonso-Melchor to organize a peaceful walk Thursday evening from the Highwood Metra Station to the site where Jaclyn was struck.
More than 600 people attended.
Surrounded by Highwood and Highland Park politicians like mayors Charlie Pecaro and Nancy Rotering, as well as people from both communities and some that came from Waukegan, North Chicago and even Indiana, Colon said she felt grateful that so many had taken the time to show their support.
"We can do strong things together," she said. "We're hoping [Jaclyn's family] can get through this and know everyone is here for them."
Dressed in white and holding white balloons, the hundreds of attendees began walking at 6 p.m. Many said they were walking to honor Jaclyn's memory, as well as to advocate for justice.
"It's for the family to feel the community is on their side," said Jorge Esquibel, a Highwood resident who was walking with his 12-year-old son, "and to have justice."
The driver of the vehicle that killed Jaclyn and injured her mother and two brothers is Highland Park 18-year-old Carly Rousso. Though she was arrested for driving under the influence, she was released on bond soon after. Her first court appearance is Sept. 21.
Many who walked on Thursday said they wished the driver was already in jail.
"She got released without any charges," said Highwood resident Ismael Castrejon. Rousso was cited on Monday, but she posted bail and is home until her trial begins. "It just wasn't right."
Others, like Highland Park City councilmen Paul Frank and Daniel Kaufman, stressed community solidarity and a show of support for Jaclyn's family as their reasons for walking.
"We're a small community, so anytime someone faces a tragedy like this, people try to show support anyway they can," Kaufman said. "We're all mourning the loss."
"We're walking for peace and for hope," he said. "That's a great message for the community."
Emily Lockhead came to the walk all the way from Calumet City, Ind.
"I have great nieces that are her age," she said. "It just touched my heart."
After the attendees reached the scene, Colon and Alonso-Melchor conducted a short service that included a prayer from Highland Park Police Department Chaplain Scott Baseman, as well as prayers in Spanish.
"Today we are all part of the Santos family," Alonso-Melchor said.
Jaclyn’s father, Tomas Santos de Jesus, told the Highland Park News that his family is “grateful for the outpouring of support from the community after this unbearable tragedy. We have been treated with considerable compassion and respect by everyone including the Highland Park Police Department, and we are confident that our family will ultimately receive justice.”
Moishe Nava, who co-owns the Mexican restaurant La Casa de Isaac and Moishe in Highland Park, attended Thursday's walk to help "bring awareness and togetherness" to the community. He's been providing Jaclyn's family with food deliveries for the past few days and has seen Jaclyn's mother, who's still in the hospital.
"They're very grateful to the community for the support," Nava said. "This is a spark of light in the middle of the darkness they're going through."