Drunk driver gets 6 years for crash that killed drag performer in Boystown

A DUI driver who slammed head-on into a popular drag performer’s car on Boystown’s Halsted Street nightlife strip in July 2019 has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Jherrion Bates, performing as GiGi Mayonaé, a video grab of the crash scene, and Gerrick Birt. | Facebook; Snapchat; CPD

Gerrick Birt, 32, pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI causing death in exchange for the sentence, which was handed down by Judge Michael Hood. Prosecutors dropped three other felonies, including reckless homicide, in their plea deal.

Prosecutors said Birt’s blood alcohol level was .253, more than three times the legal limit, when he swerved into oncoming traffic on the 3500 block of North Halsted and slammed head-on into a northbound vehicle at 2:14 a.m. on July 11, 2019.

The driver of the other car, Jherrion Bates, 25, was on his way to perform at Charlie’s Nightclub, 3726 North Broadway, as GiGi Mayonaé.

Patrol officers working near Roscoe and Halsted streets raced to the crash scene after hearing a loud noise and seeing smoke coming from two vehicles. Police said an officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol when they found Birt sitting behind the wheel of his car, which had caught fire. A cop helped him from the vehicle because he was unable to follow directions, police said.

Bates underwent surgery at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center two days later repair a broken pelvis and seemed to be in good spirits.

“I’m mad I’m missing Sunday Funday,” he joked on Facebook just three days after the crash. At 1:50 p.m. that afternoon, Bates died from complications caused by the collision.

Snapchat video from moments after the collision showed smoke billowing from cars and a lone horn honking at an otherwise eerily quiet scene.

Birt allegedly told officers that he was driving from Rogers Park to his Bridgeport home after consuming three ounces of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. But later, police said, Birt told them he had been drinking Miller beer and only remembered that he drove out of a parking space. He did not recall drinking whiskey or telling police that he consumed Jack Daniel’s, the officers wrote.

Birt is expected to be paroled in August 2024 after receiving a 50% sentence reduction for good behavior and credit for time that he spent on electronic monitoring and in jail before pleading.

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