Man gets 4½ years for fatal DUI crash in Lakeview

CHICAGO — A man who crashed while driving drunk in Lakeview, killing a woman riding in his car, has been sentenced to 4½ years.

Manuel Perez, 25, pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated DUI causing death before Judge Neera Walsh, according to court records. Prosecutors dropped 19 additional felony counts of DUI in the deal. Perez will receive 599 days of credit for the time he spent in custody, mostly on electronic monitoring, before pleading.

Perez and two of his co-workers were drinking at a bar in Cicero with 24-year-old Emely Garcia and another person on January 29, 2021, officials said.

After drinking beers and shots of hard liquor, Perez drove the others around in a car owned by one of the passengers. They stopped along the way to get more alcohol, and Perez drank a vodka and tequila drink, prosecutors said a couple of days after the crash.

At 3:36 a.m. the next day, the group was traveling southbound in the 3000 block of North Lake Shore Drive when Perez allegedly slammed the car into the concrete center barrier on a curve.

Rescue workers had to extricate Perez from the driver’s seat. One of the backseat passengers also had to be cut out of the vehicle.

Officials said Garcia was alert and spoke with first responders at the scene, but her condition worsened at the hospital, and she was pronounced dead about three hours after the crash.

Manuel Perez and Emely Garcia with her two sons. | IDOC; GoFundMe

Perez, who suffered a broken hip, had a blood alcohol content of .20, about 2.5 times the legal limit, and he tested positive for cocaine, prosecutors said in 2021. One of the backseat passengers also suffered a broken hip. Another received 13 stitches to close a wound to their forehead.

The three surviving passengers told police that Perez was drunk and speeding at the time of the crash.

Garcia is survived by two young sons. A GoFundMe launched after her death raised $8,427.

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