Charges upgraded against man accused of DUI crash that killed drag performer
The driver who caused the crash faces stiffer charges after he was found with a blood-alcohol content of twice the legal limit, police said.
Charges have been upgraded against a man accused of killing a popular drag performer in a DUI crash earlier this month in Lake View.
Gerrik Birt, 29, was initially charged with aggravated driving under the influence causing great bodily harm in the crash, which happened shortly after 2 a.m. on July 18, according to Cook County prosecutors.
Court records show Birt was released from custody after posting a $1,000 bond.
Charges against Birt were upgraded Friday to aggravated DUI causing death after 25-year-old Jherrion Bates died following a surgery to repair a broke femur he suffered in the crash, prosecutors said.
Judge Susana Ortiz raised his bail to $90,000, requiring Birt to post an additional $9,000 bond to be released.
Cambry McNabb, a private attorney for Birt, said she was unsure whether Birt would be able to come up with the additional funds.
McNabb had asked Judge Ortiz to release Birt on electronic monitoring in addition to his earlier bond, saying Birt needed to continue to work because he was the primary caregiver to his mother, who has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer, and his two siblings.
Birt had moved back to the city in the last two years from New York, where he had been living before his mother was diagnosed, and has since been working at a restaurant in the West Loop, McNabb said.
Birt had been driving a 2000 Infiniti at a “high rate of speed” just before the crash when he swerved in to the opposite lane of traffic to avoid a turning vehicle and collided head-on with Bates’ Ford, prosecutors said.
Both men were taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center for treatment of a broken pelvis and femur in the crash, prosecutors said. Birt was also hospitalized and was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.214 — more than more than double the legal limit.
Bates died Sunday at Illinois Masonic after undergoing surgery. An autopsy conducted by the Cook County medical examiner’s office found Bates died from a blood clot in his leg from injuries to his hip in the crash, with obesity as a contributing factor, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. His death was ruled accidental.
Bates, who performed as GiGi Mayonaé, was a popular drag performer in the city. A fundraiser being held by friends to cover the costs of his funeral had raised more than $5,500 toward a $10,000 goal as of Friday.
McNabb said she plans to contest that Bates’ injuries in the crash were a direct result in his death. Birt was scheduled to return to court Aug. 15.