The mother of the 5-year-old girl who was killed on Labor Day when an 18-year-old drove into her and her family is seeking damages from the driver.
Highland Park resident Carly Rousso was driving eastbound on Central Avenue on Labor Day afternoon . Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, 5, was killed.
Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento: The Story So Far
Rousso was charged last Wednesday with one count of reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound, according to the Lake County State's Attorney's office. Toxicology reports indicate that the compound Difluoroethane was detected in Rousso's blood, which is found in a commercial cleaning product uncovered in Rousso's car.
According to Bob Baizer, who is representing Sacramento in the wrongful death lawsuit, Sacramento watched as Rousso crushed Jaclyn with the car and then drove over her again.
"She ran over the little girl and then backed up, and ran over her again," Baizer said. "Modesta and the boys, they all witnessed everything."
This account has not been confirmed by the Highland Park Police Department.
The lawsuit filed seeks damages in excess of $50,000, which Baizer explained is the jurisdictional limit allowed to be pleaded. When asked how much he hoped to get for the Sacramento family, he replied, "That'll be up to a jury."
"I can assure you it's substantially more than $50,000," he said.
A hearing will be held Dec. 6 to set a trial date, which Baizer believes will be sometime in September of 2013.
"To get to trial in a year is very quick," Baizer said.
Though there's a chance Rousso's criminal trial will be concluded by then, the outcome will not affect the civil case.
"All the evidence has to be presented all over again," Baizer said.
If Rousso is convicted in her criminal case, however, Baizer said her credibility may be diminished in the civil case.
"If someone is convicted of a felony then you can impeach them," Baizer said. "It affects their credibility in a civil case."
Rousso faces felony charges
Rousso surrendered herself before Judge Raymond Collins last Wednesday morning. Hours later, her father posted her $500,00 bond, paying $45,000 in cash (). She will return to court on Oct. 9 for the felony charges.
Aggravated driving under the influence is a class two felony that can lead to a prison sentence of three to 14 years. Reckless homicide is a class three felony that can lead to probation or up to five years in prison, according to Lake County Deputy State's Attorney Traffic Division Chief Ken LaRue.
Jaclyn is mourned
Jaclyn's funeral mass was held last Tuesday. About a hundered people attended the funeral mass, including Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, City Manager David Knapp Police Chief Paul Shafer and Deputy Police Chief Dave Schwarz.
Paul Dean, the executive director of Family Service, also attended the service. Family Service has offered to provide free grief counseling to both the Rousso and Sacramento families.
"This tragic accident has had an enormous impact," Dean said.