Orland Park

Man Identified, Charged In Deadly Orland Park Hit-and-Run That Killed Teacher

Police said he had attended the same "Christmas card" party as the victims the night the incident occurred

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Authorities identified and charged a former priest Saturday in the deadly hit-and-run that killed one teacher and injured a second as they were leaving a Christmas party in Orland Park earlier this week, police said. 

Orland Police Chief Tim McCarthy said Saturday that retired pastor of St. Michael Parish in Orland Park Paul C. Burak, 73, was charged with aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident (both felonies), after attending the same "Christmas card" party as the victims in Wednesday night's incident.

The incident took place at around 8 p.m. Wednesday night, according to police, who said  two women were walking out of the Square Celt Restaurant, located at 39 Orland Square Drive at the Orland Park mall, when they were hit by a vehicle. One of the victims, a 61-year-old woman, was pronounced dead at the hospital, authorities said. The other victim, a 54-year-old woman, was hospitalized in serious condition, according to police.

Officials said a light-colored, possibly gold suspected vehicle was seized around 4 p.m. Thursday in a garage on Canterbury Court in Palos Heights and Burak was taken into custody Friday night.

Principal Paul Smith, of St. Michael School in Orland Park, identified the teacher killed as Ms. Rone Leja, a technology instructor who had been at the school for about a year-and-a-half.

School officials said the teacher who was injured in the hit-and-run had been released from the hospital and was recovering at home.

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement Saturday saying:

"As a community we continue to grieve the loss of Ms. Leja and the injury to Mrs. Kosteck. We again offer our heartfelt condolences, support and sympathy to their families and are keeping them and all affected by this tragedy in our prayers."

Burak was due in court Saturday afternoon.

Contact Us