Prosecutors: Hit-and-run driver ran over women, then returned to take direct aim at them again

Edgar Roman | CPD

Prosecutors on Wednesday laid out a horrifying account of a hit-and-run driver who struck two women in River North, then circled the block and returned less than a minute later to intentionally run one of them over again.

Edgar Roman, age 25, is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, leaving the scene of an accident, and filing a false report.

Prosecutors said Zoraleigh Ryan, 55, and her 20-year-old daughter were visiting Chicago when they took an Uber from their hotel to have dinner at Chicago Cut steakhouse, 300 North LaSalle.

They left the restaurant around 10:15 p.m. and talked about taking an Uber back to the hotel, but they decided instead to walk to a convenience store on the way back, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

The women stopped at a 7-Eleven at State and Hubbard streets, but it was closed due to damage from looting the night before. At that point, the elder Ryan didn’t want to walk any more, and the women decided to go to a nearby hotel to wait for an Uber.

The women were walking to the Courtyard by Marriott (flags at right) to call an Uber when they were struck in the crosswalk, prosecutors said. | Google

As they crossed Hubbard on the east side of State Street, the younger Ryan saw Roman’s SUV coming toward them at a high rate of speed. He made a wide right turn onto Hubbard, swinging into the on-coming traffic lane with his tires screeching, Murphy said. The front of his SUV allegedly struck both women, who were in the crosswalk. 

The force of the collision threw the Ryanses to the northeast corner of the intersection. While the 20-year-old was able to get to her feet, Zoraleigh remained tucked up against the curb, Murphy said.

A bystander began tending to Zoraleigh, who was alive and able to talk about the pain she felt. Meanwhile, Roman allegedly parked his SUV nearby, walked over to within ten feet of where Zoraleigh was lying and looked at her.

Ryan’s daughter, who suffered a broken wrist and abrasions, yelled for the good Samaritan to take a picture of Roman and the SUV’s license plate. While the man took photos, Roman reportedly backed his SUV toward him and sped away.

Less than a minute later, the SUV returned at a high rate of speed and accelerated down Hubbard street with its engine revving, Murphy said. Roman allegedly took direct aim at Zoraleigh Ryan, who was still lying next to the curb, her daughter, and the man who stopped to help.

The man pulled the younger woman out of SUV’s path and both were “brushed” by the passing vehicle, Murphy said. 

But Roman ran directly over Zoraleigh and her body became trapped under the SUV, which traveled for a half-block before she fell free, according to Murphy.

Zoraleigh’s daughter and the witness ran to her side and held her head, but she was no longer breathing. 

As they waited for police, the man and the 20-year-old saw Roman return to the scene in his SUV a second time before driving away. Then, he came back a third time as police were arriving, Murphy said. Police began a pursuit.

After crashing through barricades near the Merchandise Mart, the SUV sped from the area, and police lost sight of it.

About an hour later, CPD license plate reading technology detected the SUV on the Northwest Side, and cops began scouring that area for Roman’s car, Murphy said. As police searched for the truck, Roman walked into the local police district to file a police report — he claimed that he had been carjacked at gunpoint in River North.

While police spoke with him about his carjacking claim, officers located his SUV on a side street near the Kennedy Expressway and Montrose. Roman was detained for questioning.

During interviews with detectives, Roman initially stuck with his carjacking story, but he later admitted to driving and striking the victims, Murphy said.

Zoraleigh’s daughter and the man who helped her both identified Roman in photo line-ups.

Judge Susan Ortiz called the state’s allegations, “very, very disturbing” and said Roman appeared to create “a path of intentional destruction.”

Ortiz then ordered Roman held in lieu of $2 million bail and said he must go onto electronic monitoring if he can post a $200,000 deposit bond. Prosecutors did not ask Ortiz to hold Roman without bail.

Roman was arrested for DUI in 2018, but prosecutors struck a deal that allowed him to plead down to a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving, according to court records. His previous convictions include robbery, for which he received probation, and driving without a valid license.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com