Home > Life, etcetera, Society, Sociology > Chicago Public Radio remembers Danielle Baker…so do I!

Chicago Public Radio remembers Danielle Baker…so do I!

Friday, 9 March 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

I was saddened to hear about the news of Danielle’s death.  This was a woman who was emerging into something of a force within journalism!  Committed to her infant daughter, her family, and the world around her–this is the truth and virtue journalism…not the mass media we see on TV today!

From the SunTimes, Chicago

Man charged with aggravated DUI in fatal crash
(http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/286892,CST-NWS-crash07.article)

March 7, 2007

Danielle Baker had a baby daughter and a bright future in broadcast journalism. But a fiery crash on the Eisenhower Expressway extinguished her promise early Tuesday morning.

Baker, 22, died when a black Mercedes driving over 100 mph slammed into her car. The collision triggered an explosion that engulfed her car in flames, and the fire burned her body beyond recognition, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Sanjay Patel.

Prosecutors charged Michael Penachio, 34, of LaGrange Highlands with aggravated DUI. Judge Maura Slattery Boyle set bond at $300,000.

“Six witnesses saw the defendant’s black Mercedes flee the scene and continue to drive at a high rate of speed,” Patel said.

After exiting the Eisenhower at Damen Avenue, Penachio allegedly crashed into a fence and got out of the car, Patel said. Illinois State Police arrested him, and a test conducted at Stroger Hospital revealed his blood alcohol level to be .161 — twice the legal limit.

Family members depicted Baker as an ambitious, spiritual person whose dream was to be a television anchorwoman. She graduated from Temple University in 2006, said her mother Calmette Griffin, and had held internships at WBEZ radio in Chicago and the BBC in London.

“She had such a bright future ahead of her,” said Steve Edwards, host of WBEZ’s “Eight Forty-Eight.” “You knew that no matter what she did, it was going to be special.”

Baker gave birth to a daughter, Jasmin Rayne Baker, during her senior year of college, Griffin said. Edwards recalled how she would fly from Chicago to Philadelphia during her WBEZ internship in order to finish her classes at Temple University.

Baker was on her way home from a hair appointment shortly after midnight when Penachio’s 2006 S-Class Mercedes struck her car. Before the crash, witnesses saw Penachio’s car “swerving between lanes,” Patel said.

After Penachio’s car stopped, “one of the witnesses approached the defendant and spoke with him, noting a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.”

Penachio, 34, is married and has three children — ages 6, 4 and one and a half — according to his lawyer Edmund Wanderling. He was born in Melrose Park, attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, and lives in LaGrange Highlands, Wanderling said. The lawyer added Penachio works for a trading firm, and computer records show he is employed by Bullseye Trading in Western Springs.

Baker family members said it was difficult to watch Penachio in person and hear about his family.

“Just for however long he was out and having a good time — and for somebody’s life to be paid for his pleasure — is very hard to take. Very hard to take,” said Baker’s father, Derrick Baker.

eherman@suntimes.com

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