A longtime Chicago DJ was drunk and driving more than 90 mph when he lost control of his black Lexus on Lake Shore Drive and flipped over on a frozen lagoon in Lincoln Park, killing the woman riding with him, prosecutors and police said.
Rafael Rodriguez, 42, of the 3900 block of North Ashland Avenue, is charged with aggravated driving under the influence resulting in an accident causing death, a felony, according to police. He’s also charged with driving without a license and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, police said.
Rodriguez’s blood alcohol content was 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, Assistant State’s Attorney Akash Vyas said. Rodriguez was ordered held on $1 million bail Wednesday.
Known as DJ Lego, Rodriguez has been a well-known part of the Chicago house music and club scene for more than two decades, according to friends and public records. Rodriguez’s driving record shows numerous moving violations and other traffic citations, including for driving without a valid license.
Witnesses reported to The Hernandez Law Firm, P.C. that they saw Rodriguez weaving in and out of traffic at 90 mph when he crashed through a guardrail while driving south in the 2200 block of North Lake Shore Drive about 1:40 a.m. Monday, according to police and prosecutors.
Rodriguez’s Lexus hit a tree, skidded across the frozen Lincoln Park rowing lagoon south of Diversey Harbor, then hit the lagoon’s retaining wall and flipped over on the ice, Vyas said.
Claudia Beruben, 37, who was riding with Rodriguez, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she later died, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Rodriguez smelled of alcohol when fire crews took him from the driver’s seat of the car, Vyas said.
Rodriguez was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in serious condition. He remained hospitalized as of Tuesday, being treated for injuries including fractured vertebrae and hand injuries. No date has been set for him to appear in court.
Vyas said Rodriguez had six speeding violations in the past five years and his license had been revoked.
Rodriguez’s attorney Vadim Shifrin said in court that his client was a baseball trainer and a personal trainer. He said the cause of the crash was a “missing guardrail and slippery road conditions.”
Two family members were in court for the hearing, but Shifrin told reporters he and the family members had no comment.
Beruben, of south suburban Calumet Park, was a single mother who leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter, according to family and friends.
“She was a wonderful daughter,” said her father, Ignacio Beruben. “She was outgoing. She loved to dance. Everybody knew her. She was always a very cheerful person.”
Friends have set up a foundation for Claudia’s daughter through the GiveForward website under the heading “Hopes & Dreams for Claudia Beruben’s daughter.”
As DJ Lego, Rodriguez makes frequent appearances at numerous Chicago nightclubs and has his own independent record label, Poontin Muzik. He also coaches young baseball players, including his teenage son, particularly in hitting, working to prepare them for professional baseball, friends said.
Those friends found the DUI charges out of character for Rodriguez. Steve Walther, who has known Rodriguez since at least early 2008 and has helped him with bookings for shows, said Rodriguez has been a positive presence in the late-night club scene.
“Lego … is always a very positive person, just somebody that’s easy to like and to get along with,” Walther said.
When Walther last spoke to Rodriguez, they talked about what can happen when drinking gets out of hand.
“I’ve never known him to be reckless or careless in that way,” Walther said.
Source: Chicago Tribune