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Highland Park teen charged with felonies in Labor Day crash

Tribune reporters

Prosecutors say a Highland Park teen inhaled computer dust cleaner immediately before she allegedly drove onto a sidewalk and plowed into a family on Labor Day, killing a 5-year-old girl.

Carly Rousso, 18,  has been charged with one count of reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound in connection with the crash, the Lake County State's Attorney's office announced today.

She faces a maximum of 26 years in prison if convicted of all the charges, said Assistant State’s Attorney Ken LaRue.

Rousso surrendered this morning in an appearance before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Collins, who set her bail at $500,000, according to the news release. She was being booked into the Lake County Jail this afternoon, jail personnel said.

Investigators believe Rousso inhaled the substance just before the crash, LaRue said.

Rousso had been charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound while authorities awaited the results of Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory toxicology tests.

The results of those tests indicate Rousso's blood sample contained the compound Difluoroethane, prosecutors said. The substance in Rousso’s blood matched a cleaning product found in the vehicle she was driving, and prosecutors believe she was impaired before the crash, LaRue said.

Rousso was driving a Lexus coupe registered to her father, David Rousso, at about 2:30 p.m. Sept. 3 when she left the roadway and struck a family walking on the sidewalk in the 700 block of Central Avenue in downtown Highland Park.

Jaclyn Santos Sacramento of Highland Park died later that day at Evanston Hospital of her injuries.

Her mother, Modesta Sacramento Jimenez, 25, and her two brothers, ages 3 and 6, were treated at Highland Park Hospital for their injuries. They have since been released.

This morning, attorney Robert Baizer filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s family accusing Rousso of hitting the family while under the influence of the chemical and then hitting family members again as she tried to move her car.

The suit accuses Rousso of negligence, the infliction of emotional distress and wrongfully causing the girl’s death.

Baizer said his clients were pleased to hear of the upgraded charges this morning. The girl’s funeral service was yesterday in Highwood, and her family’s grief is “beyond description,” he said.

“The family went out for a walk on a beautiful Labor Day afternoon, and their lives have been changed forever,” he said. “Watching the dad bend over and kiss the little baby before they closed the casket was too much for everybody at the funeral to witness.”

Rousso’s lawyer, Doug Zeit, said at a court hearing Tuesday morning that Rousso is taking classes at College of Lake County and is enrolled in a treatment program in Lake Bluff. A family spokesman said the Roussos had no comment on the details of the treatment program. Zeit was not immediately available for comment this afternoon.

A Rousso family spokesman also was not immediately available today.

Rousso's next court appearance is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Oct. 9, according to the news release.

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