Orland Park

Orland Park Priest Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Dies

Paul Burak, 74, died Monday at his home, but his cause of death was still undetermined

A retired priest who was charged in a fatal hit-and-run in Orland Park in 2019 has died.

Paul Burak, 74, died Monday at his home, but his cause of death was still undetermined, Archdiocese of Chicago spokesman Manny Gonzales said Wednesday.

Burak, who retired from St. Michael Parish, allegedly crashed into two women Dec. 4, 2019, while leaving a holiday staff party in the south suburb and kept on driving.

Margaret “Rone” Leja was killed, and Elizabeth Kosteck was injured, as Burak pulled out from the Square Celt Ale House & Grill’s parking lot to an access road, officials said. The women were both teachers at St. Michael School in Orland Park.

Two days later, police arrested the Burak on counts of aggravated driving under the influence and leaving the scene of the fatal crash.

Burak told police that he took Parkinson’s medication and blacked out after having a Manhattan and a glass of wine at the party, prosecutors said then.

Burak was asked if he was OK to drive before leaving holiday party, and he said he was fine, prosecutors said.

DUI charges against Burak were dropped in January 2020. The retired priest pleaded not guilty to the remaining counts of causing and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. He was due to appear in court for a hearing Tuesday.

The Archdiocese was expected to post an obituary later Wednesday, Gonzales said.

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