Highland Park mourners remember Jaclyn
Thirteen-year-old Judy Rodriguez of Highwood holds a banner before a memorial march for 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos Sacramento, who died after being struck by a car while walking on a sidewalk in Highland Park Sept. 3. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media.
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:50PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Friends as well as strangers who came to know Jaclyn Santos Sacramento only in the days since her death turned out to pay their respects this week and share their grief over a senseless loss that has stunned the community.
The 5-year-old was struck by a Lexus coupe on Labor Day after the vehicle swerved onto the Hghland Park sidewalk where Jaclyn was walking with her mother and two younger brothers.
The driver in the accident, 18-year-old Carly A. Rousso of Highland Park, has been cited for driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound or compounds, a misdemeanor, but may face more serious charges pending toxicology results and the outcome of a police investigation.
Rousso was taken into sheriff’s custody Tuesday after a Lake County judge raised her bond to $50,000. She was released three hours later after posting the required 10 percent, or $5,000. Her lawyer said she is enrolled at the College of Lake County and is attending a treatment program in Lake Bluff four to five nights a week.
“There is evidence that may indicate the use of an aerosol inhalant by the driver,” Deputy Highland Park Police Chief David Schwarz confirmed Monday. “That is part of the investigation that is being considered. We are waiting on toxicology results. An analysis of all of the evidence in this case will dictate exactly what charges will be filed.”
Those charges could include reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence, or both, Schwarz said.
At a funeral mass Tuesday at St. James Church in Highwood, the Rev. Thomas Balbonieri described Jaclyn as a joyful child who loved to play and dress up in pink.
“Even now, we see how many people were touched by Jaclyn’s life and her tragic death, even though they may not have known her,” Balbonieri said. Pink, white and lavendar flowers draped the girl’s small white casket,
Last week, hundreds of marchers made a pilgrimage from the Highwood train station to the spot on the 700 block of Central Avenue were the accident took place. A half-dozen girls carried a banner with Jaclyn’s photo that read, “Justice for this angel.”
Police say Rousso, of the 2500 block of Woodpath Lane in Highland Park, was driving east in the 700 block of Central Avenue on Sept. 3 when her vehicle crossed the westbound lanes and struck Jaclyn, her 25-year-old mother, Modesto Sacramento Jiminez, and two younger brothers.
Members of both the Rousso and Santos-Sacramento families issued statements days after the accident.
Carly’s parents, Gabrielle and David Rousso, said, “Our hearts go out to (the family) for the devastating loss of their beautiful daughter and sister Jaclyn. Words cannot possibly express our sorrow at this unimaginable tragedy. And they remain in our thoughts and prayers during this heartbreaking time.”
Gabrielle Rousso is executive director of the Highland Park Art Center and David Rousso is on the center’s board of directors.
Jaclyn’s father, Tomas Santos de Jesus, expressed gratitude for the outpouring of community support and sought to quell criticism of the Highland Park Police Department’s handling of the investigation.
“We have been treated with considerable compassion and respect by everyone, including the Highland Park Police Department, and we are confident that our family will ultimately receive justice,” said de Jesus.
Rousso has no traffic record, according to Lake County court records. She was cited with an ordinance violation for possession of marijuana in Deerfield on Jan. 11, 2010, according to court records. Rousso was sentenced to six months of supervision and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service for that ordinance violation, court records show.
The marijuana case was terminated Aug. 5, 2010.
A memorial fund started by Indian Trail School families had raised $67,000 as of Tuesday. Having met its $3,000 goal within the first five hours, sponsors now are hoping to raise $100,000. Contributions may be made at http://indiegogo.com/indiantrailmemorial fund.
A separate fund has been established through the Highland Park Community Foundation. The foundation will serve as the repository for tax-deductible donations and manage distributions to the family. Those donations should be made payable to the Highland Park Community Foundation and earmarked for the Santos family. Contributions should be mailed to the Highland Park Community Foundation, P.O. Box 398, Highland Park, Ill., 60035