Fatal DUI suspect wanted on child sex charges

David Soto, 47, of the 8600-block of West Berwyn, is charged with aggravated DUI after the bus he was driving struck and killed a woman in Streeterville. (Chicago Police Department)

May 5, 2011 4:30:56 PM PDT
A man charged with DUI in a crash that killed a woman in Streeterville Tuesday also faces charges in an unrelated case involving child sex abuse.

David Soto, 47, of the 8600-block of West Berwyn, is charged with aggravated DUI after the bus he was driving struck and killed a woman in Streeterville. Justyna Palka, 27, was killed Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the 500-block of North Columbus Drive. Soto was driving the tour bus that struck her, police say.

A statement from the Chicago Police Department states during the traffic investigation they learned Soto was wanted "in connection to an investigation of sex offenses involving children." In that unrelated case, Soto faces one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under the age of 13.

In court Thursday prosecutors said Soto admitted to making a right turn onto Columbus as Palka was crossing but said he didn't see anyone. Prosecutors said Soto stopped after hearing two thumping sounds and called 911. Prosecutors also said he had cocaine in his system.

"An analysis of a urine sample taken from the defendant at the hospital indicated he tested positive for the presence of cocaine in his system," said Morgan Creppel, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney.

Prosecutors requested no bail for Soto due to his history and an outstanding issue. In 1982, he was convicted for the attempted rape of a 17-year-old. In 1993, he was convicted for aggravated sexual assault of a 6-year-old relative. And in 2009, Chicago police issued an alert for Soto due to allegations of sexually abusing an 8-year-old and 6-year-old in 2008.

"Victim number one, victim number two and victim number two's mother left immediately. Later that evening victim number two told her mother the defendant had touched her also," said Kathleen Muldoon, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney.

Soto was recently hired by Pontarelli's Group Charter. An executive at Pontarelli's told ABC7 they are devastated and their hearts go out to the victim's family. He said he had no idea about Soto's background.

Soto had a valid commercial driver's license, according to the Secretary of State's office. But a speeding incident without insurance required him to have high risk insurance.

On Thursday, an impromptu display honored Palka who worked as a graphic designer at Ogilvy and Mather. Palka's boss says she was working on a big presentation Tuesday evening. She was walking home when she was fatally struck.

"She was an artist. She had passion in her craft. She really believed in what she did," said Jack Rooney, Ogilvy and Mather. "Theres probably a bit more anger today. Yesterday there was a great deal of sadness. Today it's sadness tinged with anger."


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