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Alcohol party possible link to Cook County teen's death

How a teenager died may not be as valuable to Cook County criminal investigators as the victim's condition when she was struck by a vehicle. The 17-year-old was walking on a road in Olympia Fields when she was severely injured in a car crash. The girl died three days later.

Authorities are looking beyond the driver's responsibility into the hours before the incident. Police said the teen was at a Park Forest party before the predawn auto accident. A 21-year-old man at the same party was charged with supplying alcohol to a minor and contributing to a minor's delinquency.

The driver who struck the teen remained with the victim until emergency personnel arrived. Reports did not state whether police were considering charges against the driver. Authorities may be waiting for results of a scheduled autopsy, which could also determine whether the man at the party faces further charges.

Blood tests will tell whether the teen was drinking that night and gauge the amount of alcohol in her system. The minor's impairment might have affected her judgment as she walked in the dark. Investigators are zeroing in on who helped the minor access alcohol that may have contributed to her death.

The victim's parents may be absorbed with the criminal investigation as they work through the painful loss of their daughter. Parents frequently are not financially or emotionally prepared when their child dies before them.

A wrongful death claim could address the pain and suffering the teen endured from the time of the accident until her death. The girl's family may recover compensation for the child's burial, final medical expenses and the permanent loss of companionship.

Defendants in a civil case could include the driver and anyone who provided liquor to the teen. The plaintiffs would have to prove the girl's intoxication resulted from the liquor she was given and related to her injuries and death.

Source: articles.chicagotribune.com, "Orland Park teen dies after being hit by car in Olympia Fields," Ashley Rueff, March 19, 2013

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