A jury on Wednesday convicted a Round Lake Beach man for driving drunk and crashing head-on into another car, killing two women near Grayslake in 2019.
Victor H. Ortiz, 54, of the 1400 block of Kildeer Drive in Round Lake Beach, was charged with four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol causing death.
Ortiz was the driver of a Ford E-350 van that crashed head-on into two vehicles on June 8, 2019.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened around 9:05 p.m. on Fairfield Road north of Route 60 in Fremont Township.
Ortiz was traveling southbound on Fairfield Road north of Route 60 when he crossed the double yellow line and went into the northbound lanes.
His van struck the driver’s side of a northbound Honda Odyssey, driven by a 42-year-old Hainesville man.
Ortiz’s vehicle also struck a northbound Kia Forte head-on.
Barbara Gaulke, 56, of Ingleside, was driving the Kia and Sandra Forscht, 64, of Round Lake, was in the front passenger seat.
Gaulke sustained major injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Forscht also sustained major injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ortiz and the driver of the Honda were transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville with non-life-threatening injuries.
Investigators obtained blood and urine results from Ortiz, which showed he was driving under the influence of alcohol during the time of the crash.
After receiving the results, investigators received a tip that Ortiz was trying to flee the country to Guatemala and authorities secured an arrest warrant for Ortiz.
Police received information that Ortiz boarded a charter bus, which was traveling to Texas and eventually to Guatemala.
Chicago Police Department tactical officers determined Ortiz was a passenger on a Turimex Bus that departed Chicago.
Police officers located the bus in the area of Interstate 57 and 111th Street in Chicago. Police conducted a traffic stop on the bus and took Ortiz into custody.
Ortiz was extradited back to Lake County following his arrest and held on a $1 million bond.
A jury trial in the case began Monday and lasted three days.
Jurors heard from different state witnesses, including law enforcement and medical experts, who explained how the collision occurred and the physical state of Ortiz at the time of the incident.
Ortiz testified on the last day of the trial and denied having any alcohol the day of the crash.
Medical expert witnesses testified that Ortiz’s blood alcohol concentration level was almost three times the legal limit of 0.08.
Ortiz also denied ever crossing over into the opposite lanes.
The jury found Ortiz guilty on all charges late Wednesday evening.
Lake County Judge George Strickland revoked Ortiz’s ability to post bond following the verdict.
“I want to thank the Sheriff’s Office for their great work in this case, our dedicated Assistant State’s Attorneys for their hard work in bringing this case before a jury, and our victim specialists for supporting the families throughout the court process,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.
“We hope that these verdicts play some role in assisting the family, and we continue to express our deepest sympathies for their loss,” Rinehart said.
Ortiz faces six to 28 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections served at 85% in accordance with truth-in-sentencing guidelines.
A status hearing is scheduled for September 15.