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Prosecutors: Driver in deadly Northwest Side crash had opioids in system

Gerry Machalek, 58, takes morphine for chronic pain, his lawyer said.

The Leighton Criminal Court Building. A judge set bail at $250,000 Thursday for Gerry Machalek, who faces charges in a fatal car crash in Norwood Park that killed 30-year-old mother Bat Ulzii Baljinnyambaa.
Sun-Times file photo

A 30-year-old woman was killed and her two young daughters injured when a pickup truck driven by a man with opioids in his system plowed into their car on the Northwest Side, Cook County prosecutors said Thursday.

Bat Ulzii Baljinnyambaa, was sitting between her daughters’ car seats in the back of a Toyota before the crash around late Monday afternoon, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said. The mother and the children, ages 3 and 6, were on their way to buy clothes for a wedding and the start of school.

As the family’s car headed west in the 6100 block of West Gregory Street, an eastbound 2019 Dodge Ram driven by Gerry Machalek veered from the westbound lanes, striking the Toyota and sending it spinning onto the parkway, Santini said.

Machalek’s truck rolled over and skidded onto its roof. Baljinnyambaa died of injuries she suffered in the crash. Her 3-year-old daughter suffered cuts to her face, and the 6-year-old broke her right arm. Baljinnyambaa’s cousin, seated in the front passenger seat, suffered internal injuries, and another cousin, who was driving, suffered bruises, Santini said.

Data obtained from both vehicles showed that Machalek’s pickup was traveling at 47 mph, and the car carrying Baljinnyambaa and her family was going 30 mph seconds before the crash, Santini said.

Machalek also tested positive for opioids and anti-anxiety medication when he was taken to the hospital, prosecutors said.

When Machalek shuffled into court Thursday, he was bent 90 degrees at the waist, and appeared unable to lift his torso high enough to look at Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. Defense attorney Sam Amirante said Machalek suffers from severe scoliosis — a curvature of the spine — and multiple other conditions that require him to take a long list of prescribed medications, including the opioid painkillers that were found in Machalek’s bloodstream in the hospital tests.

Machalek has an “injection pump” for doses of morphine, and also takes additional “morphine tablets” for pain, Amirante said.

Lyke ordered Machalek held on $250,000 bail for aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide.