Man charged with driving drunk in ‘profoundly tragic’ crash that killed brother

SHARE Man charged with driving drunk in ‘profoundly tragic’ crash that killed brother
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Johnathan Rios | Chicago Police

A Cook County judge called the case of Johnathan Rios ‘profoundly tragic’ at his initial court appearance Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Rios, 28, is accused of being drunk when he crashed early Tuesday on Interstate 55, causing his brother to be thrown from the SUV and killed.

Shortly after midnight, Rios was driving a 2004 Toyota Highlander north near Cicero Avenue when he tried to pass other vehicles waiting to exit by veering across several lanes of traffic,Cook County prosecutors and Illinois State Police said.

The Toyota slammed into a guard rail on the exit ramp, throwing 22-year-old Christian D. Barrajas from the vehicle, authorities said. Barrajas, of the Clearing neighborhood, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors said Rios was driving five other passengers in addition to Barrajas, who was riding in the rear hatchback of the vehicle and was not in a seat. State police said no one in the Toyota was wearing a seat belt during the crash.

Two other passengers, a 20-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, state police said.Prosecutors said the man suffered a broken shoulder and will likely require a skin graft.

Rios appeared in court Thursday on felony charges of aggravated driving under the influence causing death and aggravated driving under the influence causing bodily harm.

He walked slowly into the courtroom and had to sit in a chair during his hearing before Judge Mary Marubio. His face showed bruising from the crash and he cried softly at times.

Rios’ blood alcohol content was 0.148 after the crash, prosecutors said. Rios told state police investigators he smoked marijuana, drank shots of Crown Royal and consumed six beers the night before.

Rios’ license was suspended at the time of the crash due to a 2010 DUI conviction, for which he received court supervision, prosecutors said.

Rios’ attorney said his mother and aunts could not make his court appearance because they were finalizing plans for Barrajas’ funeral. His attorney asked Marubio to set a bond that would allow him to attend his brother’s funeral.

“This is a profoundly tragic case,” Marubio said before setting Rios’ bail at $50,000.

Marubio warned him that his bond would be revoked if he was caught driving and told him not to discuss the case with any of the witnesses at the funeral.


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