HERMOSA — Carnicerias Jimenez grocery store employees were heartbroken Monday after news spread that two co-workers were killed in a hit-and-run accident in Hermosa Saturday night.
Pablo Esquivel-Vega, 56, and Ramon Cruz, 36, were leaving work Saturday at 10 p.m., when they were struck a few blocks away from the market.
"It's difficult," said Alfredo Jimenez, 50, manager of the grocery store, located on 4204 W. North Ave. "We're more than just co-workers here, we were family — everyone's hurting."
Although Jimenez left the shop Saturday night with Esquivel-Vega and Cruz, he didn't hear about the accident until Sunday. Jimenez knew something was odd when he received a call Sunday from the market that Esquivel-Vega never showed up for his 8 a.m. shift.
"Pablo was always punctual and never missed work," Jimenez said. "I thought maybe something came up. I was sure he would make it in."
The accident occurred around 10:10 p.m. Saturday, when the two men were using the crosswalk to cross the street in the 4300 block of West North Avenue when they were struck by a 2002 Buick, said Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.
One of the men was unresponsive on the scene and was pronounced dead. The other man was taken to Norwegian American Hospital, where he was also pronounced dead, Sedevic said.
Jose Estrada, 24, of the 1200 block of North Kedzie Avenue, was charged with two counts of aggravated DUI, two counts of DUI and failing to reduce speed. Estrada was held on $500,000 bond.
"Whenever anyone asked Cruz to do something, he never said no," Jimenez said. "They were both wonderful people."
Esquivel-Vega had been employed as a bagger at the grocery store for about two years, and Cruz had been working for the grocery market for more than nine years, Jimenez said.
"I've been working with Ramon for about nine years, he's like a brother to me. This is so tragic," grocery store employee Jesus Rodea, 35, said. "Everyone loved them, they were always so happy and excellent workers."
Jimenez said Esquviel-Vega and Cruz's families were hit hard by the losses.
"It's difficult for them to talk to anyone about it," Jimenez said. "Pablo had two kids here and some family in Mexico. Ramon's parents and sisters are distraught. It's such a difficult time for everyone."
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