A 25-year-old woman riding a horse with a friend at Balmoral Park early Monday morning was killed when her intoxicated boyfriend hit them with his truck, officials and family said.
Michelle Eustis, of Crete, died after being transported to John Stroger Hospital of Cook County. The friend, 21-year-old Heather France, a horse groomer, suffered a leg injury that required surgery.
The horse was not injured.
"This was a tragedy. I understand people will drink, but they have to learn to drink responsibly. Look at the situation I'm in. My daughter is gone," said Chuck Eustis, who denied earlier reports that the couple were engaged to be married. He said they'd only known each other a few months and had been dating for about a month.
Chuck Eustis said his daughter leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter who also loves horses.
Michelle Eustis' boyfriend, 41-year-old Angus Lake of Michigan, now faces up to 14 years in prison.
In court Tuesday, Lake was charged with four counts of aggravated driving under the influence and ordered held in lieu of $500,00 bail.
Prosecutors said he drank "five or six shots" in a barn at the Crete race track with his girlfriend and her friend before the women went off to ride the horse.
About 30 minutes later, Lake hopped into his white Dodge Ram truck to look for them. He didn't see the women on the horse and struck them with his vehicle, prosecutors said.
Lake reportedly had a blood alcohol content of .147 when he was arrested.
Eustis was well-known at the racetrack because her father is a well-respected trainer there. Lake is a harness racing driver at the track.
On Facebook and at Eustis' former high school, those who knew her are trying to cope with a huge loss.
"I remember her as being not afraid to voice an opinion, and I really admired that in her. If she had something to say, she said it," said Kim Cousin, an english teacher at the school.
Eustis has three younger siblings still at Beecher High School. Staff there said they plan to help them through their ordeal.