A 22-year-old man was charged Tuesday with driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of a deadly crash that killed a woman taking an Uber ride home after celebrating her 23rd birthday in Chicago over the weekend.
Rami Matariyeh, of Homer Glen, was charged with leaving the scene of a deadly crash, leaving the scene of a crash that caused great bodily harm, aggravated DUI resulting in death, aggravated DUI resulting in great bodily harm and reckless homicide, according to Illinois State Police.
Matariyeh was identified as the driver of a white Infiniti sedan that struck the back of a Hyundai sedan driving as an Uber early Sunday morning on Interstate 55 near Damen.
The Hyundai sedan, driven by 47-year-old Shantilal Patel of Schaumburg, burst into flames on the Stevenson Expressway, killing one passenger who was unable to escape the flames, police said.
The victim, 23-year-old Jamie Ann Poulos of Berwyn, was riding in the backseat of the vehicle, authorities said.
Patel and two of his passengers, 22-year-old Alexandria Kariott and 23-year-old Anastacio Morales were able to get out of the vehicle and were all listed in stable condition at local hospitals.
"It hurts--that memory (is) burned in my head," Morales said.
"There was nothing I could have done for Jamie ... she was stuck," he said. "Completely stuck ... the only way to have saved her was if there was no fire."
Police said Matariyeh left the scene of the crash and was later found at his home. He was taken to an area hospital for his injuries. A passenger from his vehicle was also injured and taken to a local area hospital, authorities said.
The Poulos family said their daughter was working at a Starbucks and was close to finishing her college career. In their eyes, their daughter was doing everything right, including being responsible in taking an Uber and wearing a seatbelt the night of the tragic accident.
With her birthday cake still sitting on the table, the 23-year-old's family is still trying to comprehend what happened.
"Our hearts go out to the victim's family and everyone impacted by this terrible incident," Uber said in a statement. "We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation."