ORLAND PARK, Ill. — DUI charges have been dropped against a retired priest in a hit-and-run that killed a teacher in Orland Park.
The Rev. Paul Burak, 73, was charged with aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident last month.
Burak is accused of striking Margaret “Rone” Leja and Elizabeth Kosteck as they were all leaving a Christmas party on Dec. 4 at 39 Orland Square Drive.
Tuesday, Leja’s family was told the DUI charges were dropped.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement Tuesday that said, “After a thorough review of the case, we did not seek an indictment for the offense of Aggravated DUI as the evidence and facts were insufficient to support that charge.”
Burak told police he had no recollection of hitting the women. He was not charged for 24 hours which weakened the case for DUI.
Joe Shannon, Leja’s family’s attorney, said the family hopes prosecutors will reconsider.
“There’s no reason why we have to have any of these types of cases,” he said. “Driving impaired, that just should not happen anymore. All you’ve got to do is get on your app, get the driver there and he’ll take you safely to where you want to go.”
The Leja family released a statement that said:
Though we feel exceedingly grateful for the many years we have shared with Rone, we remain heartbroken that she was needlessly taken far too early. This horrible crash reinforces the need for continued diligence in preventing impaired driving and encouraging sensible decision making.
The state’s attorney’s office said the more serious charge against Burak still stands, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a class one felony.
Burak pleaded not guilty to that charge and is due back in court in March.