By Bob Uphues, Riverside-Brookfield Landmark Editor
MONDAY, NORTH RIVERSIDE — A 24-year-old Maywood man faces felony drunk driving charges after he reportedly crashed his 2009 Nissan Sentra through a guardrail and fence and into the Jewish Waldheim Cemetery at 16th Street and Circle in North Riverside on Oct. 19 at about 1:30 a.m.
No one was seriously injured in the wreck, although both the driver and his passenger, a 22-year-old Berwyn man, were both treated at Loyola University Medical Center for their injuries. The passenger suffered a dislocated wrist and a cut on his right forearm that required nine stitches, according to the police report.
When police arrived at the scene, just south of the intersection of 16th Street and Circle Avenue, they found the heavily damaged vehicle inside the cemetery. Tire tracks led from the fence line into several tombstones, which were damaged, to the spot where the car came to rest.
The passenger was found at the scene, but the driver had allegedly fled the scene on foot. At about 2:50 a.m. police located the driver, Omar Mendoza, bleeding and walking in the 2000 block of Desplaines Avenue.
Initially, he reportedly told police he had been “jumped” in the cemetery, but later admitted he had been in a car accident in the cemetery and had jumped a fence to leave the scene.
According to the police report, Mendoza and his passenger had been drinking at a bar on Madison Street in Forest Park. Mendoza reportedly chose to take a “shortcut” and headed south down Circle Avenue at a high rate of speed, hitting the guardrail and fence where the roadway dead ends at 16th Street.
At the time of the crash, Mendoza was driving on a suspended license, police said. His blood-alcohol level was reportedly more than twice the legal limit of .08, according to the report. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved felony drunk driving charges against Mendoza.
He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of failing to give aid or information in a personal injury accident and was cited for several traffic offenses. He has a preliminary hearing on Oct. 28 at the Maybrook courthouse. VFP