Rousso Cited with DUI Days Before Her Name Was Released
The Highland Park 18-year-old who drove into a family, killing a 5-year-old girl, was cited with driving under the influence shortly after the crash on Monday. Why wasn't her name disclosed to the public until Wednesday evening?
The 18-year-old Highland Park resident who drove her car into a mother and three children, killing 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, was cited with a DUI shortly after the crash on Monday, two days before her name was released, according to the Lake County States' Attorney's office.
The driver's identity was not revealed on Monday because charges had not been filed yet, according to a news release sent out Monday afternoon by the Highland Park Police Department. On Wednesday evening, a news release from the Highland Park City Manager's office identified the driver as Carly Rousso and said she'd been cited with "driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound or combination of intoxicating compounds in connection with protocols associated with blood and urine draws."
However, according to Lake County Deputy State's Attorney Traffic Division Chief Ken LaRue, that citation was handed down two days earlier, at Highland Park Hospital, where Rousso had blood drawn so that it could be tested for drugs or alcohol.
"She was charged Monday," La Rue said. "When we draw blood we need to issue a ticket."
After her blood was drawn, Rousso was taken to the Highland Park Police Department, where mugshots were taken and she was released on bond.
Calls to the police department were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon. To view the ticket issues Monday, click on the PDF icon above.
Some members of the community, like City Councilman Tony Blumberg, are perplexed by the delay in the release of information.
"The press release from the Highland Park Police Department indicated no charges were filed, and I have no idea why that is," Blumberg said.
The two-day lag between the citation and the release of Rousso's identity might have been caused by the fact that there's a difference between a citation being issued and a charge being filed, according to LaRue. Though Rousso was charged on Monday, the county clerk didn't file her charge until Wednesday, which was when she was given her case number and court date.
"Technically, charges are filed when the case number is assigned," LaRue told Patch. "The clerk just assigned a number Wednesday."
Blumberg was nonplussed by this suggestion.
"I don't understand that explanation," the councilman said. "I can't explain why it was handled in this way."
Deputy City Manager Ghida Neukirch told Patch on Thursday evening that the initial misdemeanor charge of DUI was filed for the purpose of getting blood and urine samples, without which those tests would not have been possible. Police were following the direction of the State's Attorney's office, which wanted to complete its investigation before final charges were identified and made. However, after pressure was placed on the State's Attorney's office on Wednesday, that initial charge was made public.
"We were going under the guidance of the Lake County State's Attorney," Neukirch said.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering is one of many people who expressed frustration that Rousso was allowed to go free after Monday's crash. The mayor pointed her frustration towards the States' Attorney's office in a letter published on Patch.
"The City Council, staff and I are frustrated by the delayed manner in which this case is being handled," Rotering said.
As the community plans a memorial walk Thursday evening for Jaclyn, the States' Attorney's Office continues its investigation. The major crash assistance team is assembling to diagram what happened and examine Rousso's vehicle. Meanwhile, LaRue is waiting on toxicology reports and on phone records to see if Rousso was texting at the time of the crash.
"It doesn't make any sense to charge someone with something until we get the full investigation," La Rue said.
Potential charges include aggravated driving under the influence, which is a class two felony that can lead to a prison sentence of three to 14 years, or reckless homicide, a class three felony that can lead to probation or up to five years in prison.
When questioned about criticisms that his office was working at a slow pace throughout the investigation, LaRue stressed the importance of due process.
"We don't want to rush to judgment. When you do that, that's when mistakes are made," he said. "A young girl died, there's no reason we should deviate from established protocol."
Though he doesn't understand LaRue's explanation for why Rousso's name was not revealed earlier, Blumberg said he was satisfied with the way the State's Attorney's Office has handled the evidence in the case.
"The investigation is proceeding correctly," he said. "The issues of disclosure to the public, while disturbing, has no impact on the due process necessary to a legal proceeding."