A woman was chased and detained by witnesses who allegedly saw her driving into the opposite lane of traffic last April on the Near West Side and ramming a cyclist, killing him.
Courtney Bertucci, 30, faces multiple charges including leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, reckless homicide and possession of a controlled substance in the April 16 crash in the 900 block of West Madison Street.
Bertucci was initially only charged with possession of a controlled substance when officers found small packets of suspected heroin as they took her to the police station, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday before the court. court.
An investigation by the Chicago Police Department’s Major Accidents Unit led to additional charges. Bertucci was arrested Monday on a warrant issued when she failed to appear for a hearing in the drug possession case, prosecutors said.
Judge Charles Beach noted that she did not appear in that case and set bail at $150,000 per hearing on Tuesday, even though her private attorney said she could not afford to post $5 bond. $000 max.
A witness who was driving friends home from work was behind Bertucci’s silver Volkswagen Jetta when they saw it fail to stop at two stop signs and pull into the opposite lane of traffic then that they were both heading east on Madison Street near Ashland Avenue, prosecutors said.
As Bertucci approached Peoria Avenue, she again swerved into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with Paresh Chhatrala, prosecutors said.
Chhatrala was thrown through the air and hit Bertucci’s windshield, but she did not stop and dragged Chhatrala’s bicycle under her car as she drove away, prosecutors said.
The driver following her saw others rush to the cyclist’s aid, so they followed Bertucci and called the police, prosecutors said. A delivery driver who also witnessed the accident also followed and called the police.
When Bertucci pulled up to a curb in the first block of South Aberdeen Street, witnesses pulled up alongside, preventing him from leaving. The delivery driver searched his car and took his keys, prosecutors said.
Bertucci tried to drive away but the delivery driver and two others “chased after her and were able to apprehend her” and lead her back to her car until police arrived, prosecutors said.
Chhatrala suffered a serious head injury and was taken off life support three days later, prosecutors said. His death renewed activists’ calls for safety improvements along this stretch of Madison Street, where the city removed a concrete median in 2019 to ease traffic congestion.
Prosecutors said she was previously convicted of one misdemeanor count of impaired driving in DuPage County and was sentenced to surveillance in 2014.
A deputy public defender said Bertucci lived in Chicago with his mother and worked for a cleaning company.
His next court date has been set for June 24.