Eight-year-old Lauren Jessica Smith a 3rd grader was looking forward to opening the presents, especially a karaoke machine, as she returned from a Christmas Eve family dinner in the south suburbs. She was riding with her father, headed for her grandmother's house, when their car struck a curb and crashed into a tree in the 1000 block of West Garfield Boulevard around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.
The car came to rest on the passenger side on the grassy median, authorities said. Lauren was found dead inside the car and her father, 26, was taken in critical condition to Stroger Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
Firefighters spent about 40 minutes working to free the father, then they continued to search the crushed car and found the young girl trapped inside, officials said. Firefighters freed Lauren in 20 minutes, but their efforts to save her life were unsuccessful.