Man Charged in Fatal Chicago Ridge Hit-and-Run Was Arrested and Released Hours Before Crash

A man facing felony charges for a drunk driving crash that killed a 15-year-old girl this week had been drinking at a friend's Super Bowl party and was arrested and released by police just hours before the fatal crash, prosecutors said. 

In court Wednesday, prosecutors accused Edward Cruz of drinking 12 beers at a friend's home while watching the Super Bowl. He was arrested for theft at a nearby bar around 11:34 a.m. and released on bond at midnight, prosecutors said. 

According to police, Cruz was arrested for theft after he was caught reaching behind the bar and drinking from bottles of alcohol at 115 Bourbon Street, located at 3359 W. 115th St. in Merrionette Park, police said. 

Around 6 a.m., Cruz allegedly returned to his friend's home to drink whiskey, prosecutors said. 

At 7:30 a.m., he was involved in a series of hit-and-runs in Oak Lawn and a final crash in Chicago Ridge in which he struck 15-year-old Amira Nairat as she walked to school, prosecutors said. 

Nairat, a freshman at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, was struck in the 10700 block of South Central Avenue, according to Chicago Ridge police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Nairat was rushed to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she died at 8:11 a.m., authorities said. An autopsy conducted Tuesday did not rule on the cause and manner of her death pending further investigation.

After his arrest, Cruz refused field sobriety tests and chemical samples and told police he remembered hitting someone but didn't know it was a person, prosecutors and authorities said. Officers eventually obtained a search warrant to administer a blood test, and Cruz’s blood alcohol level was found to be higher than the legal limit, authorities said. 

Cruz, 25, of Oak Lawn, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence resulting in a death, hit-and-run involving a death and driving under the influence, according to Chicago Ridge police. Cruz was also cited for driving without insurance, failing to offer information about the crash, failing to exercise due care to a pedestrian, failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident and improper lane usage.

Cruz had previously been under supervision in 2016 for reckless driving. 

According to officials, Cruz has a 3-year-old daughter who lives with him and graduated from Richards High School in 2012. His defense attorney said Cruz has an "unaddressed substance abuse problem" and "understands he needs treatement." 

Cruz was denied bail in court Wednesday. 

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