Off-duty South Holland police officer charged in fatal DeKalb DUI crash, authorities say

59-year-old DeKalb woman Graciela Reza-Contreras killed in crash

ByJohn Garcia and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Off-duty South Holland PO charged in fatal DeKalb DUI crash: police
An off-duty South Holland police officer is facing homicide and DUI charges after being involved in a fatal crash in DeKalb County Sunday, authorities said.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- An off-duty south suburban police officer is facing homicide and DUI charges are being involved in a fatal crash in DeKalb County.

DeKalb police officers responded to the scene of a two-car crash just before 1 a.m. Sunday near a fire station in the 1200 block of South 7th Street in DeKalb, authorities said.

A woman who was in one of the vehicles involved in the crash was seriously injured and taken to a hospital, where she later died, DeKalb police said. Three other people in the same car suffered minor injuries.

"They tried everything they could to save someone's life and it didn't work out," DeKalb Police Chief David Byrd said.

Officers arrested the driver of the other vehicle, 25-year-old James Corralejo. He is alleged to have caused the crash and was under the influence of alcohol while driving, responding officers said.

The South Holland Police Department later identified Corralejo as one of their officers, and said that he was off duty at the time of the crash.

Family members of the victim spoke with ABC7 and identified her as 59-year-old grandmother Graciela Reza-Contreras.

Reza-Contreras was a passenger in a car with three other family members. They were just blocks away from their DeKalb home.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral costs.

Corralejo has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving while drunk, DeKalb police said. He remains in custody in DeKalb County.

"He made a tragic decision that had tragic consequences on that night, and that's the sad part," Byrd said.

Prosecutors said Corralejo had a blood-alcohol level of at 0.154, nearly twice the legal limit.

"He put himself in a position where he could lose his freedom and his law enforcement career is in jeopardy," Byrd said.

The South Holland Police Department issued the following statement on the incident:

The South Holland Police Department has been in direct communication with DeKalb police officials as they conduct their criminal investigation regarding the actions of the off-duty officer. South Holland expects all employees to hold themselves to a high standard of conduct, even when they are off-duty. The circumstances of this incident appear to fall far short of that, hence an internal investigation is also underway. We are deeply saddened by the outcome of this tragic incident. We grieve with the victim's family, and our thoughts are with the remaining passengers who were injured.

Corralejo is due in court next month. If found guilty of his charges, he could face up to 14 years in prison.