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Man was on cellphone during Waukegan crash that killed mother and seriously injured her kids, police say

Stephanie Rojas and her two young children | Source: GoFundMe.

A grand jury has indicted a Park City man on charges that he was on his cellphone when he crashed head-on into a car near Waukegan in 2018, killing a mother and critically injuring her two children.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Gabriel Flores, 21, of the 3500 block of Howard Avenue in Park City, on four counts of reckless homicide, eight counts of aggravated reckless driving causing great bodily harm and one count of aggravated use of an electronic device while driving.

Crash investigators determined Flores was distracted by his cellphone on August 10, 2018 when he crossed over the center median, striking a 2014 Kia Forte head-on near Green Bay Road and Nemesis Avenue in unincorporated Waukegan.

Flores was driving northbound in a 2005 Dodge Durango when he struck the southbound Kia, which was driven by Stephanie A. Rojas, 26, of Zion, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.

She was critically injured and pronounced dead at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville two days after the crash. Rojas’ two kids, a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, were in the backseat of her Kia at the time of the crash.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Gabriel Flores, 21, of the 3500 block of Howard Avenue in Park City.

The 6-year-old boy was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where he was later flown to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. The 8-year-old girl was transported to Vista East Medical Center.

Both children were critically injured and treated in the hospital for an extended amount of time before being released, authorities said.

Flores suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the crash and was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center.

A Lake County judge issued a warrant for Flores’ arrest that carries a $500,000 bond after the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office presented the case to a grand jury, who returned an indictment.

“Stephanie left behind her husband, her 6 younger siblings, her cousins, her parents, her grandparents, friends, but most heartbreaking of all, she left behind her two beautiful babies. To say that she will be greatly missed is an understatement,” Rick Rojas said at the time.

Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli explained that in serious or fatal crashes, it can take a while for charges to be filed against the person at fault because a full scene reconstruction must be completed, which can take months, and investigators must wait for medical records.

“We seek thoroughness, accuracy, and completeness over speed,” Covelli said.


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