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Villa Park Man Accused of Leaving the Scene After Striking Thirteen-Year-Old Bicyclist with His Vehicle

June 4, 2024

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and Villa Park Chief of Police Michael Rivas announced today that Judge Joshua Dieden has denied the State’s motion to detain pre-trial a Villa Park man accused of fleeing the scene after he struck a bicyclist with his vehicle. Joel Lazaro, 50 (d.o.b. 7/13/1973) of the 0-100 block of N. Westmore Avenue, appeared at First Appearance Court this morning charged with one count of Failure to Report an Accident Involving Personal Injury (Class 2 Felony) and one count of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Personal Injury or Death (Class 4 Felony).

On June 3, 2024, at approximately 7:07 p.m., Villa Park police officers responded to a call of a hit and run involving a vehicle and a bicyclist near Elm Street and Princeton Avenue. Following an investigation into the matter, it is alleged that the bicyclist, a thirteen-year-old boy, was on his bike crossing the intersection at Elm Street and Princeton Avenue, when a black 2013 Toyota Venza, allegedly driven by Lazaro, went through the intersection and struck the boy. It is alleged that Lazaro dragged the boy approximately twenty-five feet before the boy became dislodged from the vehicle. It is further alleged that after striking the boy, Lazaro drove away without checking on the boy’s condition. Through their investigation, authorities identified Lazaro as the suspected driver of the Toyota. At approximately 9:26 p.m., officers with the Villa Park Police Department went to Lazaro’s home where they allegedly observed the Toyota Venza in the driveway with apparent signs of being involved in an accident on the front side of the vehicle. Lazaro was taken into custody without incident at that time. The boy was transported to a local hospital for medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries.

“It is alleged that after striking a young boy on a bike with his vehicle, Mr. Lazaro fled instead of remaining at the scene to aid his victim,” Berlin said. “What I find particularly disturbing about this case is the allegation that hours later, after Mr. Lazaro had time to consider the situation, he still never called police or attempted to alert anyone to the crash. I thank the Villa Park Police Department for their swift response to this incident and fine police work that led to the apprehension of the defendant. I also thank Assistant State’s Attorneys Adam Frahm and Andrew Poncer for their work on this case.”

“The alleged actions of the accused are reprehensible.” Chief Rivas said. “When a driver of a motor vehicle strikes anything on the roadway, that driver has an obligation to stop and report the incident. In this case, the accused allegedly knew he struck a bicyclist, a thirteen-year-old boy, and sped away from the scene without offering aid or information. The accused also had time to reflect on his actions and contact police. Villa Park officers located the vehicle and conducted a thorough investigation. We thank the Villa Park officers and investigators for their hard work in bringing the accused to justice. We also thank DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and his staff for their review and approval of appropriate felony charges.”  

Lazaro’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 1, 2024, for arraignment in front of Judge Margaret O’Connell.

Members of the public are reminded that this complaint contains only charges and is not proof of the defendant’s guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lazaro, Joel

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