Marchers seek ‘justice for an angel’
Thirteen-year-old Judy Rodriguez of Highwood holds a banner before a memorial march for 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos Sacramento, who died after being struck by a car while walking on a sidewalk in Highland Park Sept. 3. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media.
Updated: October 2, 2012 4:20PM
HIGHLAND PARK - A sea of white balloons filled the streets and then floated toward the sky in Highland Park and Highwood on Thursday night as hundreds of marchers made a pilgrimage to the spot where a 5-year-old girl was killed earlier this week after being struck by a teen driver who has been charged with being intoxicated at the time.
On Monday afternoon, 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento of Highland Park was walking with her family in the downtown area when they were struck by the vehicle.
“We feel so bad this has happened and we really don’t feel that justice has been served yet,” said Susan Holtzman, a Highland Park resident who participated in the march with her adult daughter, Shayna Holtzman. “We really believe the driver should have been taken into custody.”
A half-dozen girls carried a banner with Jaclyn’s photo that read, “Justice for this angel.”
Police say Carly A. Rousso, 18, of the 2500 block of Woodpath Lane in Highland Park, was driving a Lexus coupe east in the 700 block of Central Avenue on Monday afternoon when the vehicle crossed the westbound lanes and struck Jaclyn, her mother and two younger brothers.
The mother, 25-year-old Modesto Sacramento-Jiminez, was upgraded to good condition Thursday at Highland Park Hospital. The younger brothers were treated and released the day of the accident.
Many marchers simply wanted to show support for the Santos-Sacramento family, recognizing the tragedy could just as easily have claimed one of their own children.
Highland Park resident James Carrera said his sons regularly walk in the vicinity. Only 15 minutes before the accident, Monica Medeina of Highwood said she had left her job at a grocery store adjacent to the scene.
Rousso was cited Monday with driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound, a misdemeanor. She may face additional charges pending further investigation and toxicology tests by the state crime laboratory. Those charges could include reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence, or both, according to Deputy Police Chief David Schwarz.
Members of both the Rousso and Santos-Sacramento families issued statements Thursday.
“We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the entire Santos-Sacramento family,” said Carly’s parents, Gabrielle and David Rousso. “Our hearts go out to them for the devastating loss of their beautiful daughter and sister Jaclyn. Words cannot possibly express our sorrow at this unimaginable tragedy. And they remain in our thoughts and prayers during this heartbreaking time.”
Gabrielle Rousso is executive director of the Highland Park Art Center and David Rousso is on the center’s board of directors.
Jaclyn’s father, Tomas Santos de Jesus, said his family is “grateful for the outpouring of support from the community after this unbearable tragedy. We have been treated with considerable compassion and respect by everyone including the Highland Park Police Department, and we are confident that our family will ultimately receive justice.”
De Jesus asked that the community and media respect the family’s privacy. “We really just ask you to allow us to grieve for our loss at least for the next few days,” he said.
On Wednesday, Highland Park officials expressed frustration with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office for perceived delays in completing the investigation and bringing charges as appropriate.
“Without this vital next step, due process cannot proceed and our community cannot begin to work through this tragedy,” Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said Wednesday. She on Wednesday criticized the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office for “releasing the driver with no restrictions.”
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller said he was “puzzled” by the letter issued by the Highland Park mayor two days after the fatal accident.
“This investigation by police is still ongoing. We have not been asked to approve more serious charges,” Waller said Thursday, pointing out that investigations of this magnitude can take several weeks.
Schwarz said the department has asked the state crime lab to expedite the processing of the laboratory tests, but noted that it can take up to three months to obtain toxicology results.
“We’re hoping for another week and a half if we’re lucky. That could be unrealistic,” Schwarz said.
Schwarz said the intoxicating compound alleged to have been in Rousso’s system could suggest drugs or other intoxicants to alter the mind. Highland Park police also must analyze physical evidence, evaluate witness testimony and obtain background information, he said.
Rousso has no traffic record, according to Lake County court records. She was cited with an ordinance violation for possession of cannabis in Deerfield on Jan. 11, 2010, according to court records. Rousso was sentenced to six months of supervision and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service for that ordinance violation, according to court records.
The cannabis case was terminated in Aug. 5, 2010, according to court records.
Rousso is due in court for arraignment on Sept. 21 for her DUI case.