(via Prosecutors: Stadium worker killed man in hit-and-run after concert - chicagotribune.com)
A woman who works at the United Center had been drinking at a holiday concert at the stadium last month before she hit and fatally injured a homeless man walking with a shopping cart of his belongings, prosecutors said today.
John Deweese, 56, was hit on Dec. 9 in the 300 block of South Damen Avenue.
Patricia Cucinotta, of the 3200 block of South Lowe Avenue, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused injury or death and aggravated driving under the influence resulting in an injury or death. In a Cook County Bond Court hearing today, Criminal Court Judge Israel Desierto ordered her held in lieu of $75,000 bail.
Cucinotta, 53, drank at the concert that evening, and left a United Center parking lot on Damen Avenue about 10:15 p.m., according to prosecutors. Another employee saw Cucinotta leave, and a witness saw her driving too fast to navigate the snow- and ice-covered roads safely.
Driving a white four-door Nissan car, Cucinotta blocked both lanes of traffic, then drove up onto a curb on Damen Avenue, prosecutors said.
Deweese was walking with a shopping cart near the curb lane on the west side of Damen, trying to avoid the snow and ice on the sidewalks, prosecutors said. Cucinotta’s car hit Deweese from behind, causing his legs to buckle and throwing him onto the hood of her car.
Deweese fell off the car and onto the pavement, but Cucinotta kept driving, prosecutors said. A witness behind her never saw her brake lights go on, and tried to get her attention by blowing his horn.
When Cucinotta and the witness stopped at a stoplight, Cucinotta looked at him, stopped, got out of her car, then immediately got back in, prosecutors said. She then drove off, and the witness called police.
Paramedics took Deweese to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, where he died Dec. 16, a week after he was struck. He lived in the 200 block of South Sacramento Avenue, a little more than a mile away from where he was hit.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office said the death was an accident, resulting from being hit by a car and suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Police spoke with Cucinotta five days after the accident, and figured out she had taken her car to a repair shop, prosecutors said. Investigators found the car, and saw that it had hood damage, and the repair technician gave officers photographs of the hood damage before repairs were started.
Police confiscated the car’s hood, and Cucinotta told police that she “had a few tequila shots” and might have hit someone following the concert.
Desierto ordered that if Cucinotta is released on bond, she will be placed on electronic monitoring and she cannot drive while her case is pending.
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