Reckless homicide charge filed against driver for DUI crash that left 52-year-old James Pickett dead in South Loop

Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Samantha Salazar | Cook County Sheriff's Dept.

Samantha Salazar | Cook County Sheriff’s Dept.

A 27-year-old woman is facing reckless homicide charges after her passenger, James E. Pickett, was killed in a single-car crash late Sunday in the South Loop that police say was caused by drunk driving.

Samantha Salazar is charged with felony counts of reckless homicide by motor vehicle, and aggravated DUI causing accident or death; and misdemeanor counts of DUI and driving on a suspended license, according to Chicago Police.

About 11:40 p.m. Sunday, police responded to the 1100 block of South Indiana and found two people inside a 2011 Lincoln sedan that was disabled near a brick embankment, police said. Damage to the vehicle suggested it had been involved in a crash.

Pickett, 52; and Salazar, the driver, were both extricated from the car by firefighters, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Both were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Pickett was pronounced dead at 1:03 a.m. Monday, authorities said. He lived in the South Side Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

An autopsy showed he died of multiple blunt force injuries from a vehicle striking a fixed object, and his death was ruled an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Salazar, of the Humboldt Park neighborhood, suffered injuries to her right leg and remained hospitalized as of Wednesday, authorities said. In addition to the criminal charges, she was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

She was ordered held at the Cook County Jail on a $750,000 bond, and is next scheduled to appear in court Friday, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.

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