A driver who hit a tree on Christmas Eve has been charged in the suspected alcohol-related crash that killed his 8-year-old passenger, his daughter.
Lauren Smith, 8, was in the car that crashed in the 1000 block of West Garfield Avenue about 11:15 p.m Tuesday. DNAinfo Chicago reports the driver, a 26-year-old man, was heading west when the car struck a curb and hit a tree.
UPDATE 12/27/13: The driver was Lauren's father, Jeffery Smith. The 26-year-old has been charged with aggravated DUI.
Responders found the car rolled over on its side with the roof caved in and worked for 40 minutes trying to free the driver before noticing the child pinned inside the car as well, the Sun-Times reports.
The driver was taken to an area hospital in critical condition and remained hospitalized as of early Friday, while Lauren was taken to Comer Children's Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Chicago Fire Spokesman Larry Langford told the Tribune firefighters found what appeared to be holiday gifts in the car. "There were some toys in the car, Christmas gifts," Langford said. "It looked like they were for a child about her age."
Police believe alcohol was a factor and that the car was speeding when it crashed.
Smith is the second child to die in a suspected alcohol-related crash around the holiday. A Texas man was charged Christmas Day after a weekend crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway that killed his 4-year-old son.
His son, Franklin Leon Jackson, Jr., was was ejected from the car during the crash, a fact prosecutors say the elder Jackson didn't notice until after he stopped at a gas station to check the damage to the car.
Franklin L. Jackson was ordered held on $250,000 bond and charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI.
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