Driver charged in DUI crash that killed her ‘fiance’

SHARE Driver charged in DUI crash that killed her ‘fiance’

Samantha Salazar | Cook County Sheriff’s Dept.

A Humboldt Park woman broke her leg, and her heart, in a rollover crash that claimed the life of the man she hoped to marry, her lawyer said at a court hearing Friday.

Samantha Salazar, 27, looked forlorn as she limped into a bond hearing on crutches in a blue jail jumpsuit.

Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joe Carlson said on the night of April 30, Salazar was driving more than 70 miles per hour on a rain-slicked Indiana Avenue toward the “T” intersection on Roosevelt Road in the South Loop.

Salazar sped through intersection, across Roosevelt and over a curb into Grant Park, where the car went airborne before colliding with a concrete embankment inside the park,  Carlson said. The “black box” data recorder in the Lincoln indicated Salazar did not hit the brakes until a half-second before the impact, and pegged the sedan’s speed at 72.2 miles-per-hour, Carlson said.

Salazar’s passenger, James Pickett, 52, was killed in the crash. A witness said she saw Salazar crawl from the driver’s side of the car, Carlson said. Salazar’s blood-alcohol allegedly tested at .12 – .04 higher than the legal limit in Illinois. Salazar’s license also was expired and she had no insurance, Carlson said.

Salazar, who faces charges of aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide, was ordered held on $750,000 bail by Judge Peggy Chiampas.

Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek asked Chiampas to reduce Salazar’s bond, describing Pickett as Salazar’s “fiancé.” She said that Salazar had two young children she had not seen since she was taken to the hospital after the crash.

“She loved (Pickett) greatly,” Placek said. “This young lady has suffered, she is hurting in more than one way.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that Pickett was married, and not to Salazar.

Chiampas said she would be willing to reconsider the bond amount once Salazar had been able to talk to her family, but the judge said she was “deeply concerned” about the high speeds and “airborne nature” of the wreck.

During the hearing, a man identified as a friend of Salazar leaned against the glass wall separating the gallery from the courtroom, holding his hands together to form a heart shape. A woman identified as Pickett’s sister also was in the gallery.

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