WEST TOWN — A Lakeview woman paralyzed from the waist down after the BMW she was riding in flew off an embankment along West Erie Street, landing upside down, has filed a lawsuit against the man behind the wheel and two Chicago clubs that served him drinks.
Philip Cho, a 28-year-old nightclub promoter and co-founder of Sole Entertainment, allegedly drove his BMW on Sept. 13 off a West Town road, flipping it and sending it crashing down 25 feet — and then hailing a cab and fleeing while his injured passengers were still in his car, prosecutors and sources have said.
Erin Meyer details the charges against Cho:
One of Philip Cho's passengers, 25-year-old Kelsey Ibach, suffered a spinal injury in the crash and is now paralyzed from the waist down, authorities said.
Another passenger riding in Cho's car the night of the crash had his thumb severed. A third suffered broken vertebra, authorities said.
Ibach, along with two other passengers in the car the night of the crash, Brittney Zingsheim and Bradley Schaum, are suing Cho for negligence and two bars, The MID, 306 N. Halsted St., and Hubbard Inn, 110 W. Hubbard St., for allegedly over serving him, according to a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
"Kelsey left a bar called The MID intending to take a cab home and was in fact standing in the taxi line when Mr. Cho pulled up and offered to give her a ride," said attorney Ted McNabola. "Kelsey put her trust in Mr. Cho that night and he betrayed that trust."
"This case hopefully will raise awareness about how reckless driving can devastate the lives of other and how vigilant we all need to be in getting into cars only with people we trust," he added.
Authorities said Cho's passengers had asked him to slow down in the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 21. But Cho kept his foot on the gas and crashed at the end of the 700 block of West Erie, an industrial area near train tracks and the north branch of the Chicago River, prosecutors said.
Cho, of Naperville, allegedly crawled out of the car and fled the scene in a taxi, sources said. But before he did, Cho told his injured friends to tell police he had been carjacked, prosecutors said. They begged him to call an ambulance, but Cho ignored their pleas, prosecutors said.
"This defendant allegedly left a young lady who is now a paraplegic crying for help and left," Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas said on Sept. 23 before ordering Cho — charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries — held on $200,000 bail.
Cho, was has since bailed out of jail, could not immediately be reached for comment. Representatives The MID and Hubbard Inn also could not immediately be reached for comment.
After Cho was charged in September, Kelsey's father, Bob Ibach of Arlington Heights, questioned how anyone could leave the crash.
"What type of man flees the scene ... catches a cab to the suburbs, and leave four friends in the street to die?" Bob Ibach said. "I'll tell you what kind of man does that: a coward does that."
Prosecutors said they believe the group was out at The MID. Prosecutors said Cho works in an unofficial capacity as a club promoter for West Loop bar and is rewarded for his efforts with drinks. A warrant was issued for video surveillance footage taken in the club the night of the crash.
According to the lawsuit, Cho was also drinking at the Hubbard Inn the night of the crash.
Bob Ibach said his full focus is on his daughter's recovery. Her family is asking for contributions to help pay her medical bills through a gofundme.com campaign.
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