Round Lake Beach man found guilty in fatal crash that killed two women
A Round Lake Beach man charged in connection with a fatal DUI crash in 2019 in which two women were killed has been found guilty on all counts.
Victor Ortiz, 54, was convicted late Wednesday by a jury in Lake County circuit court of two counts of aggravated DUI and two counts of aggravating driving with a blood concentration level over 0.08. Both are Class 2 felonies.
The jury finding concluded a three-day trial. Because he was convicted on all charges, Ortiz faces a mandatory prison sentence of six to 28 years and has to serve 85% of the sentence, according to the Lake County State's Attorney's Office.
Ortiz was charged in connection with the June 8, 2019, crash in Fremont Township in which the driver of a Kia Forte, Barbara Gaulke, 56, of Ingleside, and a passenger, Sandra Forscht, 64, of Round Lake, were killed.
Authorities said Ortiz was driving a Ford E350 van about 9:05 p.m. heading south on Fairfield Road when it crossed into oncoming traffic north of Route 60 and swiped a Honda minivan before striking the Kia Forte head-on. The driver of the Honda had nonlife-threatening injuries.
A warrant was issued for Ortiz' arrest after the Lake County Sheriff's Office received the DUI results. He attempted to flee to Guatemala but Chicago police found and captured him.
Witnesses for the prosecution included police and medical experts, who explained how the crash occurred and Ortiz' physical state at the time, according to the state's attorney's office.
According to the state's attorney's office, Ortiz testified on the last day of the trial. He denied having any alcohol the day of the crash and also denied crossing into the opposite lanes of traffic, prosecutors said.
Both contentions were contradicted by state witnesses.
"We hope that these verdicts play some role in assisting the families and we continue to express our deepest sympathies for their loss," State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement.
Ortiz remains in custody at the Lake County jail on $1 million bond. Judge George Strickland revoked his ability to post a cash bond after Ortiz was convicted.
A status hearing is scheduled for Sept. 15.