Initially charged with misdemeanors, driver in fatal Edgewater crash now faces reckless homicide allegations

Chicago — When a 20-year-old Indiana man died in a high-speed car crash in Edgewater this summer, Chicago police only charged his driver with misdemeanors. That changed on Wednesday when prosecutors filed reckless homicide and aggravated DUI charges in the case.

“I’m not sure why it would have been charged as a misdemeanor,” Judge Barbara Dawkins noted after hearing detailed allegations during a bail hearing for Steven Martinez, Jr., 19, of Hobart.

Driving about 62 mph with a blood alcohol level of .138, Martinez allegedly sped through a red light at Broadway and Hollywood, clipping another car in the intersection just before midnight on July 21, officials said.

James Camacho (left inset) was killed in the crash at Broadway and Hollywood. A truck is seen removing two cars from the scene. Steven Martinez (inset right) is charged with his death.| Facebook; @CPD2024Scanner; Chicago Police Department

The impact spun Martinez’s car around, and it continued traveling up Broadway in reverse until it collided with a parked car, which was totaled by the impact, prosecutors said.

The second crash also crushed the back end of Martinez’s vehicle, including the back seat, where 20-year-old James Camacho was seated. Camacho died instantly, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Chicago police officers found Martinez unconscious in the driver’s seat. While the officers tried to help Camacho, Martinez regained consciousness and kept trying to start the car. When that failed, he stepped out of the wreckage and tried to run away, prosecutors said.

Two cops and a paramedic caught him.

Prosecutors said a 25-year-old in the front passenger seat of Martinez’s car and the driver of the vehicle that Martinez allegedly clipped in the intersection were treated for minor injuries and released.

Martinez was initially charged with reckless driving and two counts of resisting police, CWBChicago reported after the crash, citing CPD records and a police spokesperson.

At the time of the crash, he was on bail for a pending felony case in Indiana that accused him of unintentionally shooting someone while handling a gun, officials said. He later pleaded guilty and received a sentence of probation.

Martinez’s private defense attorney said he is studying engineering at Indiana State, where he is “getting A’s.” The lawyer also said Camacho’s family is supportive of Martinez.

Judge Dawkins ordered Martinez to post a $15,000 deposit toward bail. He can return to Indiana while the case is pending, she said.

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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