Man charged in hit-and-run crash that killed 15-year-old girl in suburbs

A man is facing multiple charges after fatally striking a 15-year-old girl Monday morning and driving off from the scene of the crash in southwest suburban Chicago Ridge.

Edward Cruz, 25, of Oak Lawn, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence resulting in a death, hit-and-run involving a death and driving under the influence, according to Chicago Ridge police. Cruz was also cited for driving without insurance, failing to offer information about the crash, failing to exercise due care to a pedestrian, failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident and improper lane usage.

Amira Nairat, a freshman at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, was walking to class about 7:45 a.m. when a 2007 Volkswagen New Beetle crashed into her in the 10700 block of South Central Avenue, according to Chicago Ridge police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Nairat was rushed to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she died at 8:11 a.m., authorities said. An autopsy conducted Tuesday did not rule on the cause and manner of her death pending further investigation.

“Amira was a quiet but kind student,” her Principal Michael Jacobson said in a statement. “The entire Bulldog community will feel this loss deeply.”

Before she was struck, Chicago Ridge officers were already looking for the Beetle, which was wanted in connection with multiple hit-and-run crashes a short time earlier in Oak Lawn, police said.

Prior to the crash, an officer spotted the Beetle heading south on Central Avenue through the intersection with 107th Street, police said. The officer then made a U-turn to follow the car and saw it hit Nairat, capturing the crash on a squad car camera.

The officer stopped to help Nairat while the Beetle drove off, police said. Another officer eventually pulled the car over on Central, several blocks south of the scene, and Cruz was arrested.

Once in custody, Cruz refused to cooperate with police and declined field sobriety and breath tests, police said. Officers eventually obtained a search warrant to administer a blood test, and Cruz’s blood alcohol level was found to be higher than the legal limit.

On Sunday night, Cruz was arrested for theft after he was caught reaching behind the bar and drinking from bottles of alcohol at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St. in Merrionette Park, police said. He was released on bond later that night.

Anyone with information, including details about Cruz’s whereabouts prior to the crash, should call Chicago Ridge police at (708) 425-7831.