Guilty plea in Chicago DUI crash that paralyzed passenger
Gilty plea offers little comfort for the passenger in a Chicago, Ill DUI crash
On February 8, 2015 just after 2 a.m. in Crystal Lake, Illinios, Ruben Zendejas, 25 years old of Hoffman Estates, had cannabis in his system when he ran a red light and struck the car that carried Brandon Ferreira, 23, of Algonquin, and two friends according to McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs. A 2010 graduate of Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Ferreira said that just before the car accident he and his friends had visisted a local tatoo parlor, and was working 70 hours a week between two restaurants. Ferreira had to be extracted from his vehicle. His mother, Robin Finucane, said that what Zendejas did has completely "devastated" their lives. She said she has had to quit her job as a message therapist to care for her son, and the family has been depleted financially.
To make matters worse, Law Enforcement Authorities confirmed that Zendejas has been arrested numerous times in the recent past on alcohol and drug-related charges, as well as driving while his license was suspended.
While his paralyzed victim, who was strapped into a motorized wheelchair, positioned behind him in court watched, Ruben Zendejas pleaded guilty on Wednesday to aggrivated DUI in the crash that caused Brandon Ferreira's catastrophic injuries. Zendejas now faces one to 12 years in prison but was allowed to remain free on bond until his May 27 sentencing, a fact that has upset Ferreira, and understandaby so as he is now paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of his arms.
Zendejas' lawyer, Anthony DiJohn, said that he accepted the plea deal because, although he passed a roadside Field Sobriety Test and there "was no sign of impairment," blood test showed cannabis and alcohol levels over the legal limit. In exchange for his guilty plea, another count of aggravated DUI was dropped. DiJohn said that avoiding a trial will "reduce anxiety for everybody."
Immediately after pleading guilty, Zendejas showed little emotion as he turned away from Judge Sharon Prather and saw Ferreira seated behind him in his wheelchari. Outside the courtroom, Zendejas declined to comment.
Ferreira, surrounded by his family, said: "The fact he gets to walk out of the courtroom today is ridiculous. He has a chance to hit somebody else in the next couple of months (while awaiting his sentencing)." Ferreira said of the possible range for Zendejas' sentence: "It's not enough time. I'm going to paralyzed my whole life."
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