Brandon A. Ferreira, 25, had a stroke that caused bleeding in his brain stem and prompted doctors to put him on a ventilator Dec. 26, family said.
He spent four days in the critical care unit with his parents by his side, said his stepfather, Dale Finucane, who helped raise Ferreira since he was 7.
Damage to that particular part of Ferreira’s brain meant he might never regain consciousness, Finucane said.
On Saturday, Ferreira was taken off life support and died.
“I’m just – I don’t even know if anger’s the word – that this is still the result of the selfish act of another that would get behind the wheel, and now he’s killed someone,” Finucane said.
On Feb. 8, 2015, Ferreira’s vehicle was struck by Ruben Zendejas, 27, of Hoffman Estates, who failed to stop at a red light at the intersection of Route 176 and Oak Street in Crystal Lake, police have said.
Zendejas was arrested and charged in 2015 with aggravated driving under the influence, driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, disregarding a traffic light and failure to carry a driver’s license. He also tested positive for marijuana, the state’s attorney’s office said at the time.
Zendejas pleaded guilty in March 2016 to aggravated DUI and was sentenced to 10 years in prison that May.
He now is serving his sentence at East Moline Correctional Facility, where he is expected to be released on parole in July 2024, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The attorney who represented
Zendejas on his 2015 charges, Anthony DiJohn, was not available for comment Tuesday.
Ferreira’s family has been in touch with victim advocates at the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office about the possibility of pressing more severe charges.
“It’s a direct correlation from his injury to his cause of death. We were already pretty much told that,” Finucane said Tuesday. “We definitely would like to see charges added. He’s already pled guilty to injuring [Brandon] because of being under the influence, only the end result is different.”
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally declined to comment on the case specifically, but said prosecutors generally are capable of charging a person with someone’s death even if they already have been convicted of different charges.
“I don’t think [Zendejas] had any remorse. He didn’t show anything in court,” Finucane said. “... He just turned to my son and said, ‘Sorry, man.’ ”
Ferreira was the son of Robin and Dale Finucane and the late Manuel Ferreira; brother of Zachary, Martin, Ryan and Megan Finucane and Matthew and Angelina Ferreira; grandson of Nancy and the late Charles Gillespie, Dale and Sandra Finucane and the late Gloria Hosein, according to his obituary.
Ferreira also left behind his two dogs, Izzy and Macy.
Family and friends remember Ferreira as a talented artist both before and after the crash. Even with limited motor skills, the 25-year-old found ways to continue pursuing his love for painting, woodcarving and graphic design, said his friend and caregiver, Robyn Wright.
“He was really into trading stock, like little tiny penny stocks. He thought it was great,” Wright said. “His art was incredible. He didn’t have much dexterity in his hands, so carving – he had to make new ways to do everything.”
Brandon Ferreira had been studying art and accounting at Elgin Community College, Finucane said. Someday, he hoped to get into screen printing and own a T-shirt business.
“I don’t know how he did it,” Finucane said. “It’s truly amazing.”
Brandon Ferreira’s organs and tissues will be given to more than 30 people, including a local recipient who will receive the 25-year-old’s liver, Finucane said.
Brandon Ferreira’s memorial visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m., with a celebration of his life at 5 p.m., Sunday at Emmett’s Brewing Co., 128 W. Main St., West Dundee.
“I don’t even know if there’s a place that will be able to manage the amount of people who I think will show up,” Finucane said.
In lieu of flowers, Ferreira’s family has asked for contributions to his GoFundMe page, where friends and family had raised $2,810 of the campaign’s $20,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon. The money will help pay for Ferreira’s funeral expenses.