Priest charged in death of teacher who was hit by car

Updated 12/7/2019 2:51 PM

ORLAND PARK, Ill. -- A 73-year-old priest has been charged in the death of a suburban Chicago teacher who was struck by a car after both had attended a Christmas party for staff at a Catholic school, police said Saturday.

The Rev. Paul Burak was taken into custody Thursday, a day after Margaret 'śRone" Leja was killed while leaving a restaurant in Orland Park. Another teacher from St. Michael School was injured.


Burak, who last year retired as pastor at St. Michael Parish, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of a fatal accident, said Orland Park police Chief Tim McCarthy.

It was a 'śchaotic scene'ť outside Square Celt Ale House, McCarthy said.

It wasn't immediately known if Burak had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. A judge agreed to release him with an electronic monitor.

McCarthy said he didn't know whether Burak was aware he had hit Leja, 61, and Elizabeth Kosteck, 54. The chief declined to comment on the priest's blood-alcohol level.

'śWe continue to grieve the loss of Ms. Leja and the injury to Mrs. Kosteck," the Archdiocese of Chicago said. 'śWe again offer our heartfelt condolences, support and sympathy to their families and are keeping them and all affected by this tragedy in our prayers."


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