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Young mom dies in Villa Park crash
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Gabriela L. Dawson

 

Gabriela L. Dawson, with her daughter, Amiyah, who turns 3 next month.

 

A woman attempting to flee from Villa Park police died when the car she was driving struck a tree, authorities said.

 

ABC 7 Chicago

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Published: 5/13/2008 9:36 AM | Updated: 5/13/2008 8:50 PM

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Gabriela "Gabby" Dawson was just 17 when she learned of her pregnancy.

She was afraid, but her brother said his shy, younger sister was determined with the family's help to give her daughter a good life.

"She was a good mom," Spencer Dawson said. "She was young and just trying to do the best she could."

Her close-knit family gathered in grief Tuesday after learning the 20-year-old single mother died the night before in a high-speed crash in Villa Park after a short police chase.

Police still are piecing together details of the crash, but they confirmed Dawson suffered severe head injuries at 11:20 p.m. Monday after she crashed her rental car into a tree at Douglas and Plymouth avenues.

Authorities suspect Dawson may have been drunk, but they said it'll be several weeks before toxicology results are available.

DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett requested Tuesday that the footage from the pursuing police squad's video camera be preserved to ensure a thorough investigation.

"From what we've learned so far, it does not look like there was any misconduct on the part of the police," he said. "My understanding it that (the pursuit) was a very short duration. Alcohol is suspected, but it's very, very preliminary."

In a written statement, Villa Park police Chief John J. Payne said one of his officers was alerted late Monday to a possibly intoxicated motorist who had just left a convenience store at 610 N. Addison, in Villa Park.

The police officer began following Dawson's 2008 Dodge Magnum and attempted to make a traffic stop. Police said the motorist sped up while heading east on Plymouth Avenue, through the residential neighborhood, and slammed into the tree after losing control less than a mile from the convenience store.

Spencer Dawson said his sister had just left a friend in Addison and was on her way back to their mother's house in Lombard when the crash occurred. She was alone in the car. It's unclear if Dawson was wearing a seat belt.

"It's not like her to do something like this," said Spencer Dawson, 22. "I have to find out more details. Right now, we don't know what really happened."

He said Gabby was a middle child with two brothers. She was born on Chicago's North Side, but the family later moved to Addison and the Northwest suburbs.

Spencer Dawson said his sister moved to Decatur while trying to be more independent. She hoped to pursue a career in nursing or fashion design. He said their mother, Anna, and the rest of the family will raise her daughter, Amiyah, who turns 3 in June.

"We have to treat her like a princess because my sister spoiled her so much," he said. "All she liked to do was hang out with her daughter."

Dawson had a valid driver's license. Her only prior infraction was for a June 2006 accident in Macon County in which she was cited for failure to yield.

Police are urging anyone with information about the crash to call them at (630) 834-7447. Meanwhile, her family was finalizing funeral arrangements Tuesday.