Family mourns death of Orland Park teen hit by car
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org March 19, 2013 9:10PM
Victor Gutierrez, 28, shows a picture of his sister, Rosabel, 17, on his phone Tuesday, March 19, 2013 while talking with media about her death. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:46AM
Rosabel Gutierrez’s family found out at 6:30 a.m. Friday that the Orland Park teenager had been hit by a car just a short time earlier.
She had been wandering down the middle of U.S. 30 in Olympia Fields at 5 a.m., police said. Her blood-alcohol level was high, they told her family.
Over the next three days, Rosabel lay still in a hospital, never moving, her uncle said. Trying to keep her alive, doctors had to revive her five times.
But Rosabel, 17, died Monday at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, officials said. Among the questions family members had yet to have answered was one common when such tragedies occur: “Why us?”
“I was really, really sad. I was saying, ‘Why us?’ Especially because she was so young,” her uncle, Arnulfo Gonzalez, said Tuesday at the Orland Park apartment the family shared. “Our heart is broken completely.”
A Park Forest man has been charged with giving Rosabel liquor. Police said that before the accident, she was at a party with Lemanuel J. Pitts, 21, of the 100 block of Illinois Street. He was charged Friday with one count of providing liquor to a minor and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
When police told the family Rosabel had been drinking, Gonzalez said, “I was like, ‘Who gave (the alcohol) to her? She’s only 17 years old.”
Gonzalez said he didn’t know Pitts. And while he said he was upset about Rosabel’s death, he said it was the “police’s job to work it out.”
The decision was made to take Rosabel off life support when doctors told family members she was brain-dead. Rosabel’s organs were donated to the Gift of Hope Foundation. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, with a funeral service to follow at 8 p.m. at Heartland Memorial Center, 7151 W. 183rd St., Tinley Park. Her remains will be cremated.
Rosabel is survived by her mother, Rosa Gutierrez-Acosta; sister, Maria Gutierrez-Acosta; brother, Victor Gutierrez-Acosta; and Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said Rosabel and her family emigrated from Mexico City 10 years ago. They have lived since then in Gonzalez’s apartment in the 15100 block of El Cameno Terrace in Orland Park.
On Tuesday, an unidentified well-wisher had placed seven candles and flowers in a windowsill in Rosabel’s memory.
Rosabel enjoyed watching movies and listening to music, and she had attended Sandburg High School until dropping out, Gonzalez said.
The night of the accident, Rosabel had told her family she was going out with a friend, but she went somewhere else instead.
“I always tried to tell her, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that,’ ” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes you can’t, because I’m working every day from 9:30 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. ... We don’t know what she’s doing during the day.”
Rosabel worked as a cashier and a server at Kismet Restaurant in Orland Park. Madelyn Kozlowski worked with her for about a year at a candy store and also at Kismet.
“She was obviously really nice,” Kozlowski said. “She always walked in with a smile.”
Rosabel’s brother, Victor, described her as a very independent woman who enjoyed working.
“I’m trying to be strong for my mom,” he said. “We are a little family.”