Rami Matariyeh, 22, is charged with aggravated DUI, failure to report an accident, and reckless homicide.
Jamie Poulos, 23, was killed in the crash on Interstate 55 while riding in an Uber with friends after a night of celebrating her birthday in downtown Chicago.
"It's devastating. It's just devastating," said Poulos' mother, Andrea Poulos.
Matariyeh was granted $100,000 bond but is confined to his home on electronic monitoring and is prohibited from driving until his trial. Prosecutors said he had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, and detailed an extensive history of traffic violations in court.
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Prosecutors said Matariyeh was driving so recklessly even his passenger asked him to slow down, covering her eyes in fear.
"He was drinking and driving," said Guayani Quesada, sister of one of the crash victims, through tears. "Seriously, guys. Stop drinking and driving. What is the problem? My brother was almost killed!"
Quesdada's brother, Anastacio Morales, was sitting in the front passenger seat as he, Poulos and another friend headed home to Berwyn at about 3:20 a.m. Sunday. That's when Matariyeh allegedly slammed into their rideshare vehicle in the southbound lanes at Damen in Chicago. The Uber burst into flames.
Morales was the only one able to get out of the car after impact. Upon seeing the vehicle engulfed in flames, he went back and pulled both his friend Alexanria Kariott and the Uber driver from the wreck. Poulos, who had turned 23 Thursday, was pinned in and unconscious; he could not get her out.
"I wasn't able to do enough for one of my friends," Morales told ABC 7 Eyewitness News Monday. "That's where I'm stuck. It's hard."
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"I hope he understands he saved a life and there's nothing he can do. I hope he understands that he is a hero," said Quesada.
"I feel so bad for him. He feels terrible. They were best friends. They're good kids," Andrea Poulos said of Morales.
In court, Morales' heroism was contrasted with Matariyeh's alleged actions: leaving the scene of an accident in a Lyft, that stopped to see if he could help.
"During the drive the witness heard the defendant muttering, 'What the f*** did I do?'" said prosecutor James Murphy, Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors said that's when the Lyft driver realized something was off and dropped him off at a nearby gas station before calling 911. Matariyeh was arrested at his home in Homer Glen.
If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Kariott remains hospitalized with serious burns.
The female passenger in the vehicle that struck the Uber was also hospitalized. Matariyeh was not injured in the crash according to Illinois State Police.