By Dawn Rhodes
9:19 PM CDT, March 16, 2013
Two friends who died in a crash caused by a wrong-way driver on Lake Shore Drive this week were both college students, and one victim was planning to graduate in May.
Fabian Torres, 27, of the 2800 block of South Avers Avenue, and Joaquin Garcia, 25, of the 2200 block of West 18th Place, were killed about 4 a.m. Friday when their vehicle was struck by a 35-year-old North Chicago police officer driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive between Diversey Parkway and Belmont Avenue, authorities said. The officer and another driver were injured but survived.
Late Saturday afternoon, Terrell Garrett was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence and two counts of reckless homicide, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.
A bond hearing is expected Sunday, but it is unknown if Garrett will appear because he is under hospital treatment. A booking photo was not yet available.
Earlier on a cold, cloudy Saturday afternoon, Cecilia Garcia and her younger three children grimly walked up the white stone stairs to the Torres family home in order to pay their respects.
Garcia, 42, arrived in town today from Clearwater, Fla. She said that she had never before met the Torres family. No one was home at the Torres residence, but Cecilia Garcia spoke briefly with a reporter.
"I'm devastated," Mrs. Garcia said. "Justice has to be served. (The officer) is supposed to be protecting us. My son did not deserve to die like this."
Joaquin Garcia just turned 25 last month and was a student at Malcolm X College, studying to be a surgical technician, according to his sister, also named Cecilia.
Joaquin was the oldest of four children in a family with Ecuadorean, Mexican and Puerto Rican roots. The family was raised in west suburban Elgin, and Joaquin graduated from Elgin High School, the family said.
Fabian Torres went to DePaul University, they said, and the pair met through mutual friends.
Joaquin was scheduled to graduate in May. So proud was his mother of his academic success, she kept in her pocket a certificate commemorating her son making the honor roll during the fall term.
"I wanted them to have accomplishments, and be successful and have a better life," Mrs. Garcia said. "Then this man took everything from him."
Compounding the family's sadness is that Joaquin's death comes five months after their father passed away from cancer. After graduation, Joaquin wanted to become a nurse or a doctor, and wanted to go to University of Illinois-Chicago to get his bachelor's degree.
"It's very frustrating," his sister Cecilia said. "We were supposed to go to his graduation in a couple of months. Instead we're planning his funeral."
The Torres family could not be reached for comment.
Garrett, of the 3000 block of Gabriel Avenue in Zion, who turned 35 on Friday, has been with the department since 2008, according to statement by the North Chicago police.
The officer, who is hospitalized with a fractured hip, was placed on leave pending the completion of the ongoing Chicago Police Department's investigation into the crash, according to North Chicago officials.
The driver of the third vehicle, a woman, was treated and released, according to police.
Tribune reporter Carlos Sadovi contributed.
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