Retired priest charged in deadly Orland Park hit-and-run as community mourns teacher's death

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A community is in shock after a retired priest was charged in a deadly hit-and-run in Orland Park.

Many are grieving the death of St. Michael's School teacher Margaret "Rone" Leja, who police say was hit and killed by the parish's former priest Paul Burak on Wednesday night. Another educator, Liz Kostek, was also injured in the hit-and-run near a parking lot at Orland Square Mall.

The 73-year-old Palos Heights man was attending the same Christmas party as his victims prior to the crash, according to police.

Investigators said Burak was driving drunk when he hit the women, then kept on driving.

RELATED: Orland Park hit-and-run: Victims ID'd as St. Michael School teachers leaving Christmas party

According to prosecutors, the former priest admitted to police that he was "blacked out" and drunk after drinking a Manhattan cocktail and a glass of wine.

Burak is charged with aggravated DUI causing death, aggravated DUI causing bodily harm, failure to report an accident causing death and failure to report an accident causing injury.

"Total disbelief. First, I was not sure if I heard the name correctly," said Jan Brown, a friend of one of the victims.

Burak, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and glaucoma, said he had no idea that he ran anyone over.

"He never thought it was a person and said he did stop after he hit something and then he then gunned the car," said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney James Murphy.

Burak is currently out on bond and under electronic ankle monitoring at home. He hasn't responded to ABC7's requests for comment.

"I feel so sad for the family," Brown said. "I do not know how they can move forward after tragedy."
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