Cops: Four times DUI limit in fatal crash with train
Francisco Carranza's blood alcohol content was four times the legal limit when he drove in front of a Metra commuter train in a crash that killed him and his 7-year-old daughter, Round Lake Park police said Monday.
Police Chief George Filenko said detectives have established a timeline for when Carranza was believed to have started drinking alcohol at a Round Lake Beach restaurant, leading to the fatal wreck about 5:55 p.m. Jan. 22 at Porter Drive and Route 134.
Alyssa M. Carranza's mother, Luz Barrera of Round Lake, declined to comment on the police investigation regarding her late ex-husband. She said Alyssa, a second-grader at St. Joseph Catholic School in Round Lake who was into competitive cheerleading, had a smile that could brighten any room.
"I just want to say Alyssa has really touched the lives of a lot of people," Barrera told the Daily Herald. "I just want her to be remembered as always dancing and smiling."
Toxicology results, provided to Round Lake Park police by the Lake County coroner's office, show Carranza had a blood-alcohol level of .32 percent — four times the .08 percent legal threshold for driving, Filenko said.
Filenko said information gathered from interviews and subpoenas pieced together the timeline for Carranza, 36, an insurance business owner who most recently lived in Island Lake. He said investigators learned Carranza began drinking about noon, when he met a group of six or seven friends at the restaurant.
Carranza left the eatery at 2 or 2:30 p.m. to pick up Alyssa, as arranged with her mother, after she exited a school bus near her Round Lake house, Filenko said. Carranza returned with his daughter to the restaurant, where he drank more alcohol with his pals, Filenko said.
Receipts subpoenaed by police show Carranza's group rang up a $249 tab, mostly for beer but including "a minimal amount of food" and mixed drinks, Filenko said. He said Carranza departed the establishment in a 2006 Range Rover about 5:15 p.m.
It's believed Carranza had intended to bring Alyssa to her home, but no one was present when they arrived, according to the police investigation. Filenko said Carranza then went east on Route 120 and north on Porter Drive to where it meets the railroad tracks at Route 134.
Filenko said investigators found Carranza paused briefly at the railroad crossing. However, the chief said, Carranza continued driving and "clipped" part of a downed railroad crossing gate as the vehicle was hit head-on by the Metra train.
Carranza's Range Rover struck another sport-utility vehicle after impact with the train, but those occupants were not injured, police said.
When informed of the police investigation Monday, Ricardo Carranza said it would have been out of character for his cousin to drink heavily before picking up Alyssa to spend time with her after school. He said his cousin was known for staying late in his Mundelein and Round Lake Park insurance offices if someone needed help.
"We would like to note that Francisco was a father to four children. He spent a lot of time with them and was loved by the community," said Ricardo Carranza, who owns a Palatine insurance agency. "At the funeral home, we must have had 2,000 visitors, and at church there was over 1,000."
Authorities said Francisco Carranza was wearing a seat belt and found dead inside his vehicle. Alyssa, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the SUV following impact and hit a stationery object.
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