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Orland Square Mall

Police responded to a a hit-and-run crash at the Orland Square Mall on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 in Orland. 

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped driving-under-the-influence charges filed against a retired Roman Catholic priest accused of running over two teachers, killing one of them.

The Rev. Paul Burak pleaded not guilty to the remaining counts of causing and leaving the scene of a deadly accident in Orland Park. The Dec. 4 hit-and-run allegedly involving Burak killed Margaret Leja, 61, a Catholic school teacher who was leaving a St. Michael School Christmas party with Elizabeth Kosteck, also a teacher at the time. Burak of Palos Heights was arrested two days later.

Orland Park Police Chief Timothy McCarthy says because Burak’s arrest came more than 24 hours after the incident, sobriety tests weren’t valid.

Burak told authorities he consumed two alcoholic beverages at the party, but assured other party-goers he was in good condition to drive home.

Leja’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Burak on Dec. 20, saying they were seeking to get answers to the many questions family members have.

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