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Fatal Construction Worker Wreck

A 19-year-old Ashburn man was ordered held without bail Sunday after he allegedly drove through a construction site and fatally struck a worker early Saturday.

Erick A. Lopez, of the 3700 block of West 83rd Place, was not in court because he remains hospitalized in connection to the injuries he sustained in the crash, which happened at about 4:15 a.m. Saturday in the 4900 block of South Western Avenue, according to court records.

The crash killed 58-year-old Jose Tafoya, a construction worker from Merrillville, Ind., according to court records.

Lopez was driving two passengers home from a party Saturday, where he had gotten into a fight, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Novy.

A blood test later revealed a blood alcohol content of .195, more than twice the legal limit of .08, Novy said.

Lopez was driving at a high rate of speed, wove in and out of construction site barriers and then struck Tafoya before crashing into a paving machine that Tafoya was working behind, according to Novy. Tafoya was thrown several feet and landed on the sidewalk, Novy said.

Collin Martin said he was driving the paving machine early Saturday morning when the crash occurred.

Martin, 37, of Manteno, said he had worked with Tafoya for 14 years. Tafoya normally worked out in front of the paving machines but had gone to the rear to help the other guys when he was struck, Martin said.

“It was so quick,” Martin said Sunday. “I sat down, I literally turned around and there was the van right there, and smack.”

Martin said he was uninjured.

“I got up and looked, and there was Jose, laying off to the side,” Martin said.

The two passengers in Lopez’s vehicle were also injured, one with head and spinal injuries and another with facial injuries, according to Novy. Several other construction workers were treated at the site, according to court records.

Lopez and a female passenger were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, while a second passenger was taken to John. H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, police said Saturday.

Lopez is charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, having no car insurance and failure to carry or display a drivers license, according to court records.

Martin said Tafoya was “an all around great guy” who sold tools to his co workers and was very well-liked.

“He was kind of a quiet guy, he kept to himself,” Martin said. “He wasn’t a guy that would talk your ear off, but a decent individual.”

Martin said Sunday he was still trying to wrap his mind around what had happened.

“It’s just a horrible incident,” he said. “I really don’t know how to react.”

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