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Orland Park teacher injured in fatal hit-and-run sues retired priest charged in crash

Elizabeth Kosteck and her husband filed the lawsuit Feb. 14, naming Paul Burak and Square Celt Ale House & Grill as defendants.

Alexavier Fuentes was arrested in August 2018 in Aurora.
A woman injured in a hit-and-run Dec. 4, 2019, has filed a lawsuit against the alleged driver.
Sun-Times file photo

A Catholic school teacher who was injured last year in a hit-and-run that left another teacher dead in Orland Park filed a lawsuit against the retired priest charged in the crash.

Elizabeth Kosteck, 54, and her husband filed the three-count suit on Feb. 14 in Cook County Circuit Court, naming Paul Burak and Square Celt Ale House & Grill as defendants, claiming the restaurant over-served Burak drinks before the crash.

Kosteck and Margaret “Rone” Leja, both teachers at St. Michael School in Orland Park, were walking to their cars after leaving a holiday party at the restaurant about 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 2019, when they were struck by a car, Cook County prosecutors said at a hearing at the time.

Margaret “Rone” Leja (left) and Elizabeth Kosteck
Margaret “Rone” Leja (left) and Elizabeth Kosteck
Archdiocese of Chicago

The women were taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where Leja, 61, was pronounced dead, Orland Park police said. Kosteck was seriously injured and released from the hospital the next morning.

Burak was arrested a couple of days later after authorities identified him as the alleged driver, prosecutors said. He was initially charged with aggravated driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a fatal crash, but prosecutors later dropped the DUI charge. He pleaded not guilty to the remaining charge.

In an interview last month, Orland Park Police Chief Timothy McCarthy agreed with the decision to drop the charge since Burak was taken into custody more than 24 hours after the crash, making field sobriety tests invalid.

The Rev. Paul Burak
The Rev. Paul Burak
Orland Park police arrest photo

The lawsuit claims Burak was negligent for driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to keep a look out for Kosteck. It also accuses the restaurant of serving Burak alcohol to the point of intoxication, causing him to crash.

The suit is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.