A 17-year-old girl from West Rogers Park was killed Saturday when she died in a car crash near her home.
Here is the story from Chicago Breaking News:
As Orthodox Christians, Bahara Echmail’s family fled religious persecution in Iraq, arriving to Chicago about five years ago with dreams of a better life.
On Saturday, the family was instead grieving inside their West Rogers Park home after 17-year-old Bahara died in a car crash less than two miles away on her way home from a birthday party.
A 14-year-old sister, Berola, remained hospitalized with a broken hip and other injuries, while a 20-year-old driver was in critical condition, Chicago police said.
“We don’t understand it. God’s will is God’s will,” said Mayda Tamo, a cousin, as people filed in and out of the family’s two-flat.
Both girls were riding with four other friends in a 2003 Ford Explorer SUV when the vehicle reportedly sped through a stop sign shortly after 2 a.m. in the 6700 block of North Artesian Avenue and struck a car westbound on North Shore Avenue, according to police.
The SUV then struck two parked cars before hitting a tree and coming to rest. Bahara was pronounced dead at 3:14 a.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
“They were all just friends from the neighborhood, having a fun night,” Tamo said.
Bahara came to Chicago with her sister and their mother because, as Orthodox Christians, they were subject to persecution in their native Iraq, said Diana Kheyo, another cousin. “They weren’t free to practice their religion there,” Kheyo said.
After a short time in Holland they moved to Chicago, finding presumed safety and familiarity among the large community of Middle Easterners on the city’s North Side, many of them Christians and other Iraqis who have been arriving as refugees by the hundreds in recent years.
“They have been through so much and she was a wonderful girl,” Kheyo said.
The family became involved at the nearby St. George’s Assyrian church. Bahara’s mother married and had a son.
Though pretty and outgoing, Bahara was dedicated to her family, relatives said.
“Bahara was the oldest child,” cousin Neraf Aremya said. “She always wanted to take care of her younger sister and brother; that was pretty much her life.”
In addition to Bahara, Berola and the driver, who police would not identify, the injured included several other passengers. A 17-year-old boy was in guarded condition, a 16-year-old girl was in critical condition, and a 15-year-old girl was also hospitalized in stable condition, police said.
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