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Jeremy Betancourt, of Antioch, is being treated for “chemical dependency and psychological issues, including depression,” his lawyer Jed Stone told the Chicago Tribune in early August. Betancourt, 17, is facing charges of aggravated street racing and reckless homicide after a June crash that killed 16-year-old Cynthia Perez. Perez “was ejected form the back seat of the car after it flipped into a median ditch,” officials told the Tribune. Betancourt was allegedly racing another car, driven by 19-year-old Michael Dawson (who has also been charged with aggravated street racing and who is currently represented by a public defender), when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed in Gurnee. Betancourt is currently being held in a facility “where he will spend the next 45 days being treated,” according to the Tribune. Stone told the Tribune that, “this case is a tragedy for everyone… there are no winners, only losers in this case. The question is what we should do with a 17-year-old who was drag-racing and had an accident.”
Illegal street racing has long been glorified in American culture, as far back as the 1950s with movies such as “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Grease.” In 2001, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics and as reported by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), “police listed street racing as a factor in 135 fatal crashes.” For every 1,000 people that participate in illegal street racing, according to the NHRA, 49 people are injured. Most of the people involved in fatal street racing crashes are teenagers, such as the incident that claimed the life of Perez this summer.
A report from Fox News cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, which report that, “804 people were killed in racing-related crashes between 2001 and 2006.” The first part of the 2000's saw a decline in street-racing deaths, according to Fox, but they are “on the rise again, climbing roughly 35 percent from 111 in 2005 to 150 in 2006.”
If you or someone you know has been injured in an illegal street-racing crash, you may be eligible for compensation. Don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area personal injury attorney today.