Prosecutors on Thursday said that a 20-year-old man who was never issued a driver’s license and was once accused of fleeing police at a traffic stop plowed through a crowd of people crossing the street to head into Guaranteed Rate Field.
Condelarious Garcia faces four counts of aggravated reckless driving, along with misdemeanor driving on a suspended license and three traffic citations for the Tuesday night collision steps from the stadium in the 300 block of West 35th Street.
Authorities said Garcia was behind the wheel of the silver Acura sedan that severely injured four pedestrians crossing 35th Street to the park entrance around 6:30 p.m. A 64-year-old man, was tossed headfirst into the Acura’s sunroof, prosecutors said.
“(Garcia) displays a wanton disregard for other individuals. The fact that his flight was more important than the safety of the individual lodged in his sunroof, or the safety of the people in the car with him,” said Judge Charles Beach II while setting bail.
Garcia, of the New City neighborhood on the South Side, was ordered held in lieu of a $20,000 bail, and would be outfitted with an ankle monitor should he be released.
During the roughly 15-minute hearing broadcast on YouTube, prosecutors described a violent crash near the main gates of the White Sox stadium on a game day and the frantic chase to arrest Garcia, but offered no clear reason behind the collision that severely injured four people.
All four victims — a 51-year-old woman and three men 24, 25, and 64 — were at the front of the group of pedestrians crossing 35th when a speeding car in the curbside lane struck them as they neared the sidewalk, prosecutors said.
The victims were thrown into the air, including the 64-year-old who landed in the sunroof, prosecutors said. A police dashcam captured the victim’s legs and feet dangling through the sunroof as it sped away from the scene, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt told the court. One of the Acura’s passengers pulled the man fully into the car, she said.
After Garcia ignored the flashing police lights pursuing him, state troopers performed a traffic maneuver that caused the Acura to crash into the Dan Ryan Expressway’s concrete median. Police pulled Garcia from the driver’s seat and took him into custody.
Prosecutors noted no possible cause for the crash and didn’t mention any drug or alcohol impairment. One of Garcia’s passenger told authorities that everyone inside the car yelled at Garcia about people in the street, but that Garcia disregarded it, Dale-Schmidt said. The same passenger said the vehicle had no apparent problems braking or accelerating during their ride with Garcia, authorities said.
Of the four victims, one person suffered a traumatic brain injury and “remains unresponsive and intubated,” Dale-Schmidt said.
The 64-year-old victim was identified by his family as Charles Janczy, a longtime IBM employee and Evanston resident who they called a die-hard White Sox fan and season ticket holder. Janczy suffered broken ribs, spinal fractures, a broken leg and dislocated thumb, according to prosecutors and Janczy’s family.
Despite his injuries, Janczy’s son Jerome told the Tribune on Thursday that his father was released from the hospital earlier in the day. The younger Janczy, who was born and raised in Evanston before moving to California last year, recalled being horrified by the news of the accident, but he’s now amazed by his father’s progress. Charles Janczy lived an active lifestyle that included running, biking, gardening and attending Sox games.
“It could have been so much worse,” Jerome Janczy said. “I mean my family is describing the situation as a miracle. He was in the hospital for about two days and thankfully didn’t require any surgery. It’s unbelievable.”
Jerome Janczy said his father told him that he was waiting to cross the street outside of the stadium just like he has done many times, but that as he and others crossed the street, said a car “came out of nowhere” and struck him. Jerome Janczy described his father’s recovery as “hopeful, but it’s still uncertain.”
“It just felt so unfair that my dad would be a victim to something like this,” Janczy said. “He’s the kind of person who would never wish harm on anyone else and is always unrelentingly kind and is honestly very selfless as well.”
Garcia did not have a criminal background, but never had a driver’s license and had two active suspension of his driving privileges for failing to appear in court for citations, according to prosecutors. In one case, Garcia was charged with misdemeanor fleeing and attempting to elude officers, driving without a license and insurance. Garcia’s court-appointed attorney said he was a package handler with a 9-month-old son.
Beach voiced concern over Garcia’s prior missed court cases and refusals to follow lawful orders in setting bond. “It’s painfully obvious to anyone who’s driven down that street during a Sox game the number of pedestrians that are present there,” Beach said.
Garcia is expected to return to court next week.
Source: Berkshire mont