Bond set in crash that killed 1, injured 7

August 4, 2009 (CHICAGO) The Humboldt park crash occurred at 4:15 a.m. Saturday in the 3500-block of West Augusta when, police say, a Chrysler Voyager intentionally struck a Lincoln Navigator carrying eight people. All eight people in the Navigator were taken to hospitals in varying conditions after the SUV lost control, flipped and hit a light pole.

Stephanie Herrera, 19, of Northlake, later died at Mt. Sinai Hospital Monday afternoon, according the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Shalimar Santiago, 27, of the 3200-block of West North Avenue in Chicago, has been charged with eight counts of aggravated battery. He was allegedly driving the Voyager.

The injured people included four people from Melrose Park, a Northlake man, a 23-year-old Bensenville resident and a Lombard woman.

The occupants of the Voyager fled the scene after the crash, according to police News Affairs Officer Kevin Kilmer, who said all of those injured were in the SUV.

Law enforcement is calling this a case of mistaken identity in which a group of individuals became victims of a gang feud with tragic results. The suspect was reportedly looking for a vehicle involved in the shooting of a friend and mistakenly targeted the victims' SUV.

The Northlake family of 19-year-old Stephanie Herrera is now planning her funeral. The second oldest of four girls, Stephanie was getting ready for her second year at UIC. She was the pride and joy of her family.

"She was going into her second year of college. Her future plan was to be a doctor. She was an all-around awesome girl. Very intelligent. Had lots of friends," said Ricky Saucedo, victim's cousin.

"She always comes and wake us up and ask us if we wanted to run with her. Because she always went running every morning," said Angelina Herrera, victim's sister.

Pedro Herrera says his child was a perfect daughter.

"She was a great daughter, studious and liked to help people," said Pedro Herrera.

The family says Stephanie studied all the time and rarely went out. On Saturday she was with some friends in Chicago and on her way home when the driver of the car got lost on the West Side.

Shalimar Santiago is accused of intentionally crashing his mini van into the car the victim was a passenger in, using the mini van as a weapon.

"This is how dangerous these individuals are. The code of silence has to end. If they don't, the gang bangers will take over your family and your block and your communities," said Mayor Daley.

The family is proud that Stephanie was recognized by UIC for academic excellence.

"She always said she was going to save lives. She's going to get to do that because she's an organ donor," said another sister of Stephanie.

Stephanie's sisters say she was not only their best friend but was also like a second mother to them.

Several of the other passengers are still in local hospitals.

Police said Santiago is a gang member and convicted felon with numerous arrests.

Bond was set Monday in Cook County Criminal Court at $500,000 for Santiago, according to Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

The STNG Wire contributed to this report.

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