Police: Drag race led to death of 16-year-old Antioch girl - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Police: Drag race led to death of 16-year-old Antioch girl

Posted: Updated:
Cynthia Perez Cynthia Perez
Michael R. Dawson Michael R. Dawson
Jeremy A. Betancourt Jeremy A. Betancourt
GURNEE, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

A teenage drag race turned tragic Monday night when one of the cars went airborne and rolled over, leaving a north suburban girl dead, three other people injured and both drivers in jail facing felony charges.

Cynthia N. Perez, 16, of Antioch was a rear-seat passenger in the vehicle that was speeding before a crash on Route 120 in Gurnee, according to Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd.

The accident happened 8:19 p.m. on Route 120, just east of Hunt Club Road, according to a statement from Gurnee police.

Police said the black 2004 Honda Civic was eastbound on Route 120, racing a red 2000 Ford Focus when the driver of the Honda lost control. The car is believed to have gone airborne, then rolled over in the median ditch between the east- and westbound lanes before coming to rest in the westbound lanes.

The Honda had four occupants, including Perez, who was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, according to Rudd.

Cynthia's father, Edgar Perez, says the pain he's dealing with is unbearable.

"The last thing I heard was my daughter was going swimming yesterday and she's dead on Hunt Club Road on 120. And this piece of garbage doesn't care that my daughter is dead," Perez says. "God have mercy on his soul."

A 20-year-old man was also ejected from the vehicle and taken to Condell Hospital in Libertyville in serious condition, according to the coroner. A 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man were also taken to Condell with non-life-threatening injuries.

The drivers of both vehicles were arrested, police said.

"I think that they were probably just horsing around, racing down the road, having a good time probably at that point and things went bad," Gurnee Police Commander Jay Patrick says.

Jeremy A. Betancourt, 17, of 41758 N. Circle Dr. in Antioch, the driver of the Honda, has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated street racing, both felonies, according to police. He was also cited for driving without a valid driver's license and driving an uninsured vehicle.

The driver of the Ford, Michael R. Dawson, 19, of 431 Filweber Ct. in Antioch, was charged with aggravated street racing and cited for operating a vehicle with expired registration.

Betancourt and Dawson appeared in Lake County Court on Tuesday morning, where both were ordered held at the Lake County Jail on $250,000 bonds, according to police.

A teenager told FOX 32 News that he is Cynthia's friend but was riding in the car that got cut off. He says he watched his friend die, but wants to set the record start. He says they were not drag racing, rather, both cars were just having fun and he never thought the night would end like it did. His friends have been charged with aggravated street racing and reckless homicide and the other is dead.

An autopsy on Perez was scheduled for Tuesday, Rudd said.

The accident remains under investigation and police ask anyone with information to call (847) 599-7000.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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