Munster man charged in fatal 2012 Hammond crash

November 6, 2013 (CROWN POINT, Ind.)

Rosalio Ornelas had been celebrating his 53rd birthday on Nov. 11, 2012, in Hammond when he ran a stop light traveling at about 80 mph at 165th Street and Columbia Avenue at 2:35 a.m. in a Ford Focus, striking a green Kia Sedona driven by Damita Nicholson, the probable cause affidavit states. Nicholson's car, which was eastbound on 165th Street, spun into a Toyota Corolla stopped at the light facing north on Columbia. That driver, Shannon Hayes, had minor injuries, according to court records.

Police found Nicholson on the ground, critically injured. An autopsy performed at the Lake County coroner's office indicates she died of multiple blunt force traumatic injuries from the crash, the probable cause affidavit states.

Ornelas is charged with a Class B felony, punishable by six to 20 years, as well as five additional felony counts and seven operating while intoxicated misdemeanor charges.

Nicholson, 38, had just graduated from Everest College. Nicholson left a party and was heading to her home in Gary. Ornelas and his passenger were listed in serious condition after the crash.

Nicholson had been talking to her mother lately about moving to a new state and making a fresh start in life.

"Every time I turned around she was in school. But I really encouraged her," said Rose Nicholson, mother. "It only takes one drink for you to go out there and make a mistake."

Nicholson's family say all they can do is make sure her sons, then ages 1, 2 and 13, remember their mom.

"I just pray for the person who killed her because he's going to have to live with this for the rest of his life," Rose Nicholson said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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