Doreen L. Cardenas was killed by a drunken driver more than 2½ years ago. For her family, the wounds are as raw as ever and the pain unbearable.
The 22-year-old Cicero woman was killed and her boyfriend Pedro Navarro injured Oct. 25, 2010, after they were sideswiped at about 2 a.m. in North Aurora as Navarro walked her to her car.
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At an emotional hearing Tuesday, Belinda Rodriguez said when her daughter was just 15, she picked out a song for them to dance to when she eventually got married.
"I ended up playing her song at her funeral. It wasn't supposed to happen that way, not there," Rodriguez said. "It is painful to accept that she's gone. That she's not coming back. I still hope to wake up from this nightmare."
Lee R. Patterson III, 33, of the 1000 block of Assell Avenue, Aurora, pleaded guilty earlier this year to aggravated DUI and failure to report an accident that resulted in a death.
He faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced by Kane County Judge James Hallock.
Tuesday's hearing was continued to June 13.
Patterson was driving a work van back to his home from Geneva when he hit the couple in the 0-99 block of Grant Street.
He turned himself in later that morning and told police he thought he hit another car, got scared and kept driving.
Patterson had a blood alcohol level of .036 after being tested seven hours after the crash. Illinois State Police Toxicology Training Coordinator John Wetstein estimated Patterson's blood alcohol level was between .109 and .182 at the time of the crash. The legal threshold in Illinois is .08.
Jose Cardenas said his younger sister was fearless, kind, honest and lived by a saying, "I believe you can have roots and wings and my family gives me both."
"No matter what, she was there," Cardenas said. "She was wholehearted. She gave her all to everything."