Attempted to Flee to Guatemala
A jury trial concluded late evening Wednesday, August 10, 2022, in the Lake County Courthouse with guilty verdicts on all counts related to a fatal DUI collision in 2019 in Fremont Township.
Victor H. Ortiz, 54, was convicted of two counts of Aggravated DUI, a class 2 felony, and two counts of Aggravated Driving with a Blood Concentration Level of over .08, a class 2 felony.
“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. We hope that these verdicts play some role in assisting the family, and we continue to express our deepest sympathies for their loss.”
— State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart
The jury trial began on Monday, August 8, 2022, lasting 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 the defendant at the time of the accident.
The defendant chose to testify on the last day of the trial and denied having any alcohol the day of the accident, although medical expert witnesses testified that Ortiz’s blood alcohol concentration level was at almost three times the legal limit of .08. Ortiz also denied ever crossing over into the opposite lanes and had an overall contradicting testimony of what the state witnesses explained happened that night.
On June 8, 2019, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded to a car accident on Fairfield Road, north of Route 60. The Lake County Sheriff’s Technical Crash Investigation Unit determined Ortiz’s van was going southbound on Fairfield Road when it crossed the center line and side swiped a Honda Odyssey before striking a Kia head on.
The man in the Honda Odyssey had non-life-threatening injuries. The two passengers in the Kia, Barbara Gaulke of Ingleside and Sandra Forscht of Round Lake Beach, were pronounced dead at the scene.
A warrant was issued out for Oritz’s arrest after the Sheriff’s Office received the DUI test results. Ortiz, of Round Lake Beach, attempted to flee to Guatemala, but Chicago Police Officers were able to locate him and arrest him.
Ortiz remained in custody at the Lake County Jail and was held on a $1,000,000 bond. After Ortiz was convicted, Presiding Judge George Strickland, revoked his ability to post cash bond.
Because Ortiz was convicted of all charges, he will face a mandatory prison sentence of 6 to 28 years to be served at 85%. A status hearing is scheduled for September 15, 2022, at 9:00 a.m.
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