Charges dropped against cop in deadly crash

February 8, 2008 8:54:07 PM PST
Charges have been dropped against a Chicago police officer accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed two friends on Thanksgiving Day.Officer John Ardelean was charged with aggravated driving under the influence.

The victims were from suburban Cicero. Their families are disappointed and say they will continue to seek justice.

Thirty-four-year-old suspended chicago policeman john ardelean walked away from the criminal courts building a free man. His felony drunk driving case was dropped after a preliminary hearing where Judge Don Panarese decided there was not enough evidence to prove Ardelean had been legally intoxicated:

This case just didn't have that extra evidence that would mandate it going to trial. This was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole," said Tom Needham, Ardelean's Attorney.

The fatal accident happened last November 22 on Damen near Oakdale. Ardelean was off duty in his northbound Dodge Durango when he crashed into a southbound Pontiac in the southbound lane.

Two men in the Pontiac, Miguel Flores and Erick Lagunas, were killed. Ardelean refused a field sobriety test but was charged with aggravated DUI when he was seen on videotape drinking at a North Side bar 25 minutes before the accident.

"He was driving on the wrong side of the street. He was on the middle of the lanes and caused the accident. If he wasn't' drunken driving was he just stupid driving? Is that how he normally drives?" said Nancy Flores, victim's sister.

During the preliminary hearing, a bartender testified some of the glasses Ardelean was seen drinking from on videotape may have contained soda water and that some of the drinks the off-duty cop purchased that morning may have been for other customers.

An attorney for one the disappointed victims' families will now seek relief in the civil courts.

"Unfortunately this is never going to provide for these families what they want, never gonna get back their loved ones, but we will be able to provide for them, through the civil matter, something," said Daniel O'Connor, Flores' family attorney.


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