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Chicago resident arrested in Evanston hit and run incident

A Chicago man has been charged with felony “failure to report an accident with serious injuries” after he knowingly hit a Northwestern University student in Evanston on Sept. 17 then sped away without stopping to help.

Javier Castaneda-Vargas, 52, of the 4800 block of West Hutchinson Street, Chicago, was charged with felony “failure to report an accident with serious injuries” and cited for failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian on Sept. 20 following an investigation into a hit-and-run accident in the 1800 block of Sheridan Road in Evanston at around 12:40 am on Sept. 17, police said.

“It’s extremely satisfying to make an arrest on behalf of working for the family and the victim,” Evanston Police Sgt. Scott Sophier said Friday. “You have an 18-year-old college student who was supposed to start his first day of school this week and instead was spending that day in hospital with significant injuries related to the crash.”

He said that when officers arrived at the accident scene on Sept. 17, they found the 18-year-old Northwestern University student who had been struck by a vehicle. The initial investigation revealed the student was attempting to cross Sheridan Road from the east side of the street when he was struck by an SUV was traveling southbound on Sheridan Road, said Sophier. He said that after striking the victim, Vargas failed to stop and continued southbound.

The student was transported to an area hospital by the Evanston Fire Department where he was treated for serious injuries, Sophier said, adding that the student has since been released from hospital.

Northwestern University police department assisted in the investigation, which included reviewing surveillance video in the area, said Sophier. He said investigators were able to identify the offending vehicle, a Jeep Compass, and the driver, Javier Castaneda-Vargas.

On Sept. 20, Castaneda-Vargas was contacted by police and agreed to come to the Evanston Police Department for an interview, Sophier said. He said Castaneda-Vargas admitted that he struck the victim and failed to stop to render aid.

“He did make an incrementing statement regarding the case and he was placed under arrest,” said Sophier. “He said that he was scared, but he did acknowledge that he knew he struck a person.”

The investigation was reviewed by the Cook County State’s Attorneys Office, which approved the felony charges, police said. They said Castaneda-Vargas received a $100,000 bond and that his next court date is Sept. 29, at the Skokie Courthouse.

Brian L. Cox is a freelance reporter with Pioneer Press.

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