North Chicago Cop Charged After Fatal Wrong-Way Crash on Lake Shore Drive

Southbound lanes were closed for more than five hours

By Kim Vatis, Lauren Jiggetts and Lauren Petty
|  Sunday, Mar 17, 2013  |  Updated 6:19 PM CDT
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North Chicago police say it was one of their own involved in a wrong-way crash that killed two people on Lake Shore Drive on Friday morning. Kim Vatis reports.

North Chicago police say it was one of their own involved in a wrong-way crash that killed two people on Lake Shore Drive on Friday morning. Kim Vatis reports.

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Raw: Fatal Crash Snarls Lake Shore Drive

Two people were killed Friday in a three-car crash on Lake Shore Drive.
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A judge set bail at $500,000 Sunday for a North Chicago police officer that allegedly drove the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive causing a three-vehicle crash that killed two men early Friday morning.

If the officer, Terrel Garrett, posts $50,000 bond he will be required to wear an ankle bracelet.

Garrett was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence and two counts of reckless homicide Saturday, according to Saly Daly, a spokesperson for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Garrett was in an SUV that crashed into a Jeep and a Toyota Scion at about 4 a.m. in the southbound lanes at Diversey Parkway. Police said he likely got onto Lake Shore Drive at LaSalle Drive. Witnesses said he was traveling at speeds of 60 miles per hour or more.

Garrett reportedly had a blood alcohol content of more than double the legal limit. 

Chief James Jackson said Garrett, off-duty at the time of the crash, was arrested and immediately placed on administrative leave.

"We have absolutely no tolerance for officers whose actions fall outside the very laws they are asked to enforce," Jackson said in a statement.

An official said Garrett has been with the department for a little more than a year.

A source said Garrett is the cousin of Michael Newsome, the department's former police chief who resigned last year following allegations of abuse. He was later charged with stealing more than $140,000 that had been seized from drug arrests.

The crash closed the southbound lanes for more than five hours from Belmont to Fullerton. Lanes reopened just after 9 a.m.

Two people died in the Jeep, which had flipped to its side, officials said. They were identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner as Fabian Torres of the 2800 block of South Avers and Joaquin Garcia of the 2200 block of West 18th Place.

"My heart dropped when I heard the news. I couldn't believe it," said Deborah Cuevas, a childhood friend of Torres. "We lost someone we thought we would have forever. It's just so hard. We don't know how to take the news. We love him with all our hearts."

A candlelight vigil for the victims is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at 26th Street and Pulaski Road.

The families of both victims were angry Garrett received bail and said that he is being protected because he is an officer.

"Two lives are gone and he's gotten like a slap on the wrist because he's a police officer," said Asuncion Torres, mother of Fabian Torres.

Garret reportedly became a North Chicago Police Officer in 2008. He is the custodial parent of a 2-year-old girl.

Garrett and the driver of the Scion were injured and taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition. The female driver in the Scion has since been released.

The next court date is scheduled for March 18. 

Joaquin Garcia (L) and Fabian Torres were killed in the early Friday morning crash.

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