CHICAGO — Omar Vargas can be seen in many rooms of his family’s Gage Park neighborhood home. There are photos of him as a kid in the kitchen. And in the living room, his face looks down at the family gathering space.
Vargas, 17, was killed Jan. 14 while a passenger in a moving vehicle, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. The crash at Western and Archer avenues killed him and Artemio Silva, 20, and their deaths were ruled homicides, authorities said.
Edgar Barragan has been charged with aggravated DUI that caused a death and reckless homicide, according to family and court records.
The families of both victims are unsure about what happened early that January morning.
The Chicago Tribune reported at the time said the SUV Vargas and Silva were riding in tried to ram another vehicle on the road.
“There were six in the car. The four [that survived] don’t say anything,” Vargas’s mother, Claudia Vargas, said in Spanish.
She said her son had gone out that night with friends, even though she begged him to stay home because it was Friday the 13th.
Claudia Vargas said that her son was a member of the Latin Kings street gang.
She said her son had attended Kelly High School, but chose to enroll in Lincoln's Challenge Academy in Rantoul, Ill., in order to get away from the gangsters in his neighborhood.
He returned to Chicago and still needed to do some work before obtaining his GED. In the meantime, Vargas joined the gang for protection, his mother said.
“He was a gangero, but he tried,” his mom said, urging people to look beyond her son's gang affiliations. “He wanted to go forward.”