Migdalia Bloch of Hoffman Estates "never had a chance" when a speeding silver Jaguar struck her car and exploded in flames, prosecutors said as the trial began for a man accused in a street race that killed Bloch and the Jaguar's driver.
Prosecutors say the race unfolded over several miles and reached speeds of nearly 100 mph before the collision on Jan. 27, 2011, on Golf Road in Hoffman Estates.
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The surviving driver, 39-year-old Bartlett accountant Timothy Salvesen, is charged with street racing and leaving the scene of a fatal accident after the crash, which also killed Joseph Paliokaitis, 32, of North Aurora. Salvesen's trial began Tuesday with prosecutors describing the race and its terrible conclusion.
Denying that Salvesen, an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, was racing, defense attorney Dennis Berkson placed the blame on Paliokaitis.
Witnesses testified about seeing the speeding cars, with one concerned enough to photograph Salvesen's license plate and call 911. Seconds later, that witness, Conant High School teacher Josh Nilsson, saw the flash of the explosion ahead of him on the road.
Bloch, who was known as Mickie, "never had a chance," said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Clarke in his opening statement. "Before she could react, she was met by a silver Jaguar coming at her sideways, crushing her."
Paliokaitis, who was driving the Jaguar, was killed after he was ejected from his car, which caught fire and exploded.
Other motorists stopped and called police, said Clarke, but not Salvesen.
"He didn't stop and call for help. He never called 911," said Clarke. "As quickly as he got there, he was gone into the darkness."
Before the crash, witnesses saw Salvesen's car, a 2002 Subaru Impreza, and Paliokaitis' Jaguar driving at high speeds for several miles. They passed Nilsson so quickly it felt like one vehicle.
"I've never been passed by any vehicle that fast," said Nilsson, 30, who was driving west on Golf Road at the time.
With the Jaguar and the Subaru stopped at a red light at Barrington Road, Nilsson pulled behind the Subaru and used his cellphone to photograph the license plate. When the light turned green, the drivers, who were first in line, "put the pedal to the metal" and sped off, said Nilsson, who called 911.
Nilsson said he lost sight of the cars at the intersection of Bartlett and Golf roads, where a hill obstructed his view. Just beyond Bartlett Road, where westbound Golf Road merges to one lane, he saw a flash of light followed by an explosion.
Later, with the photo taken by Nilsson, police went to Salvesen's home and found his Subaru with the matching plate, prosecutors said.
Nycol Criss, a Maryville Academy employee who had several co-workers and Maryville residents with her, was also driving a van west on Golf Road in the left lane, just past Bartlett Road.
"A car zoomed past me on the left side," said Criss, who saw the car cross into oncoming traffic at about 100 mph. Another car sped past her on her right, she testified. Prosecutors say that car was Salvesen's, but Criss could not identify its make, model or color.
Within seconds, the car on the left, which prosecutors say was Paliokaitis, fishtailed, flipped several times and exploded, Criss said.
"This individual chose to go into oncoming traffic," said Berkson. "At the time of impact, my client was not anywhere near him."
"It was a terrible tragedy," said Berkson, "but my client was not involved in the accident."
Testimony continues Wednesday in Rolling Meadows.